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No 113 January 2011

Oman’s Best Automotive Resource

OMR 0.500 AED 5.00 QR 5.00

You’ve waited all these Years and it’s finallY here!

! E v i l A E Fiv



TA N G 20 11 F O R D M U S IV E G T 5. 0 F IR S T D R

Exclusive! global first drive of new bentley continental gt in oman tested

2011 infiniti m37s 2011 hyundai accent 2011 land rover lr2 & lr4 2011 kia cerato

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MORE THAN 250 MODELS, 40 BRANDS, 15 CATEGORIES AND ONLY ONE WINNER IN EACH CATEGORY! announces the thrills and prestige of its own Car of the Year awards. With enough packed in to take you through the year and a unique format of selection, Automan’s COTY awards will reward the best models on offer in Oman in 2011 Look out in every issue of Automan till August 2011. When we test drive cars, we will not only judge each car for how good it is for you as a buyer, we will also possibly select it as our editorial nominee in one of 13 categories:

13 Categories for Reader Voting If the car deserves the tag, we will tag it as “Editorial Nominee” for the category it best suits. Look out for this logo on each story: EDITORIAL NOMINEE NAME OF THE CAR CATEGORY

01 Small Car of the Year 02 Mid-size Car of the Year 03 Large Car of the Year 04 Premium Car of the Year 05 Luxury Car of the Year 06 Hot Hatch of the Year 07 Sports Car of the Year 08 Performance Car of the Year 09 Small SUV of the Year 10 Mid-size SUV of the Year 11 Large SUV of the Year 12 Premium SUV of the Year 13 Performance SUV of the Year

We will keep a running tally of all the editorial choices till August, after which, we will allow you, the reader to select further nominees through SMS and online at our website, all the way through till our October issue. And that’s when things get really exciting! The nominees in each category will go through a selection procedure that will result in one clear winner in each category. Additionally, our editors will also give two unique awards :

14 Best debut Model in Oman 15 Editor’s choice

At a glittering, year-end ceremony, the winners of each category will be awarded the Automan ‘Car of Year Award’ in its class.

A decade in the making

editor-in-chief Mohammad Al taie

AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG Po Box: 343, Postal code 118 Al harthy complex Sultanate of oman email: Website: editorial office: tel: +968 24479888 extn 300, fax: +968 24479889 circulation office: tel: +968 2456 2360, fax: +968 2456 2194 PUBLiSher hatim Al taie editor & GM raj Warrior

car industry. We had launched in 2000 as a magazine with coffee-table manners and a love of the aesthetic. In the years that followed, the personalities behind the magazine sometimes changed, but the magazine only grew richer for it. A decade into our existence and what does a brand snaphot tell us? For starters, we have one of the most respected brands in the media scene in Oman. The care we have taken to ensure that only the best inputs become part of our editorial, that only the best editorial team is involved and our belief that Oman’s car lovers should get only the best is what makes us unique. So we sat and asked ourselves, “How do we grow the brand even further?” That was how our Car of the Year Awards was born. It took us ten years to reach the

level where we could honestly accept that we were the best platform to conceive, host and deliver the awards. Worldwide, Car of the Year awards are the prerogative of car

execUtive editor chandan B Mallik co-ordinAtor Pratibha n Kadam

deSiGn Sawsan Al Muharbi

magazines. Many of them are revered names and the award they present carries the stamp of credibility they offer. Automan’s COTY is no different in that respect. What makes us different is that we are genuinely Omani. Automan has prided itself on depending completely on its editorial staff. Other than a few global motorsports inputs, we generate all our stories, test all our cars and photograph them and even visit factories and motorshows to present first-hand information to our readers. We are not a foreign brand repackaged for Oman.

heAd of MArKetinG Maged Aziz MArKetinG Supreme Philips

During the whole of 2010, Automan celebrated 10 years of being the mascot of Oman’s

We are glad to announce the Automan Car of the Year awards, the selection process of which will run through the year. Every issue during this year will carry nominations, listings and in the second half of the year we will even let our readers nominate cars to the awards. Details are available in our COTY communications and we will of course be

circULAtion finAnce & AdMin Abraham daniel Printer ruwi Modern Printers LLc tel: +968 2479 4167, 2479 8157 fax: +968 2470 0545

© 2010 All editorial content of Automan in the magazine and its website is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the management of AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG Automan accepts unsolicited exclusive editorial material, but reserves the right to publish any such material. once published, the copyright for any such material will vest with AL roYA PreSS & PUBLiShinG

covering the process editorially. There are exciting times ahead and the journey will be as much fun as the destination itself. We wish all our readers a great year ahead in 2011.

in this issue {abu dhabi motor show}

107 10




From across the region and around the world

IN NATURAL HABITAT Despite poor attendance by major carmakers at last month’s 13th Abu Dhabi International Motor Show, amidst free style dancing, LED screens, and pounding music, participating dealers were pulling out all the stops to make the show a success for the visitors


f one looks at a successful international motor show anywhere in the world, it’s that space which opens its doors to feature new models and interesting concept cars. And it’s not just the big world debuts that draw the crowds it’s the overall ambience and content. With the dismal Oman motor show past us, all eyes were on the Abu Dhabi International Motor Show which was officially inaugurated by HH Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy chairman of the board of trustees of the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation. In the past two editions of the Abu Dhabi show there has been an assortment of interesting cars ranging from manufacturers to privateers, tuners and modders. Although the platform has the patronage of HH Lt Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy prime minister and minister of Interior, between 60 exhibitors, around 200 vehicles were on display and the press day saw around 20 regional and UAE launches. Compared to the Oman show, it was like a terrier vs bull run and although not as effervescent as previous editions, Abu Dhabi was at least sincere in

Oman’s sand dunes and flowing wadis provided the perfect setting for the updated for 2011 Land Rover LR2 and LR4. Automan decided to discover more of the country and its awesome terrain with the duo

content and presentation. Despite the valiant attempts to spruce up the show, a majority of regular motor show visitors felt it had been somewhat downgraded to the status of a retailer exhibition rather than a full blown motor show as the major brands and their respective principals especially German marques such as Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW were absent en-masse, as were premium brands such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, MINI and Rolls-Royce. In addition there was no presence whatsoever from Volvo, Honda, Nissan, Infiniti, Renault, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. This aspect therefore left the field wide open to just a few names who in turn took full advantage of the situation. As a result, General Motors, Ford and its brand, Korean brands such as Hyundai and Kia, and others such as Peugeot, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Maserati, Ferrari, Jaguar, Land Rover and Subaru were literally basking under the sun. Here’s a snap shot of who did what. Read on…



| Author: Chandan B Mallik

2010: the year that was 18

News aNalysis








Top 10 headlines that grabbed our attention





RISING STAR Could Hyundai be setting a new benchmark in the compact segment? That’s the impression Automan got during the first drive of the fourth generation all-new 2011 Accent in Seoul last month


Can an ‘M’ badged sedan make any difference in the Infiniti line-up considering the fact that ‘Q’ badging has been discontinued by the automaker? Automan samples the allnew 2011 M37S for a few days in Oman to find out

| Author: Chandan B Mallik



| Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photographs: Shakil Al Baloushi

Tomas Ernberg Dr Ulrich Eichhorn










Wonderfully Indulgent


sually one doesn’t expect to hear a lot about progress and development in cars built on a budget during its lifecycle. But Kia Motors thinks otherwise. Kia introduced the all-new 2010 Kia Forte (pronounced for-tay) or Cerato in markets as a global compact sedan at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show and it is one of the early examples of Kia’s exciting new design direction under the tutelage of Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors’ chief design officer. For the region the Cerato is available in two trim levels and common to both is its normallyaspirated 1,591cc in-line four-cylinder engine. As part of the efficiency drive, the big news is that the outdated four-speed transmission has been replaced by Kia’s all-new Gamma six-speed transmission. Meanwhile, there’s been no change to the engine output or torque available to the front wheels which is 122hp at 6,300 rpm with max torque of 156Nm coming at 4,200 rpm. The ’11 cars with new transmission can be identified by it badging at the rear. While a refresh or upgrade usually involves some style tweaks, the Cerato which looks the part with its bold looks set apart by crisp and sharp bodylines, modern sweptback headlamps and a sleek profile over all perhaps didn’t need one at all. But as Kia’s second entry level model up in the line-up, it comes with a multitude of standard features such as push button start, smart key, sunroof etc that even bigger brands have tough time in matching. The interior can often be sore subject for car journalists looking for premium content in a relatively inexpensive car, in that respect the Cerato doesn’t disappoint despite it being sold with either one or two airbags depending on trim. With a wheelbase of 104.3in on an overall length of 178.3in and width of 69.9in and height of 57.5 inches, the Cerato’s front cab architecture has helped released one of the roomiest interiors in its class with seating for up to five passengers. Although, there are some hard plastics on the dashboard and door panels, most of the materials used are fairly nice to the touch and look attractive. But, it’s the level of functionality that’s plays a key role for punters in this class of a car. The interior of the Cerato doesn’t feel claustrophobic and is abundant at 96.8c-ft, and one can simply underestimate the cavernous boot space even though from outside the boot appears

As a surprise for 2011, Kia upgrades the Cerato with a new transmission and extra cogs. Automan investigates whether it is worth the effort or price increment | Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Shakil Al Baloushi

76 76



ENtlEy ENtlE tl y coNtiNENtal gt tlE pErformaNcE car

2011 Ford Mustang GT 38 54 2011 Bentley CGT 2011 Toyota Zelus 2011 BMW M1 Coupe 2012 Honda Brio 2011 GMC Terrain 2011 Audi RS3

Automan checks out the second generation all-new 2011 Bentley Continental GT during its first global media debut in Oman | Author :Chandan B Mallik

54 54

42 44 46 48 52


First Drive

2011 Land Rover LR2 and LR4 2011 Hyundai Accent 2011 Infiniti M37S 2011 Kia Cerato

e Five Aliv ng Ford Musta ration 2011 rmance ed fifth-gene dose of perfo a t jus The refresh an the th more th of days with GT arrives wi ds a couple toman spen steroids. Au re mo rs ve car and disco y: Author and | Photograph

cover story previews

Editorial NomiNEE


dan B Mallik | Author :Chan

26 60

28 36 62 76


Nabeel Ferza


Year end musings and how China made all the difference January

cover story 38 68

Sa 1 8 15 22 29

Su 2 9 16 23 30

Mo 3 10 17 24 31

Tu 4 11 18 25

We 5 12 19 26

Th 6 13 20 27

Fr 7 14 21 28



Editorial NomiNEE ford mustaNg gt


sports car


uary 201

113 | jan

-86G ta ft toyo

{Oman motor show}

Too small

Despite the media hype and hoopla prior to the local show, it wasn’t as elaborate as the other regional shows.

2011 Lexus CT 200h

Although designed with Europe primarily in mind, the CT 200h marks the introduction of the first, and only, full hybrid vehicle to the core of the premium compact segment

2011 kia optima

This mid-sized sedan from the South Korean carmaker was clearly a favourite at the show. And so was the new Sportage and Cadenza

2011 Toyota Alphard

Named after Alphard, the brightest star in the constellation Hydra, this highly popular Asian market MPV finally arrives in the region

2011 Toyota Zelus

This isn’t the first time Toyota has introduced a rebadged model in the region — remember the xA hatchback?


The new Edge demonstrates how a refresh at Ford has become more than just a few design and interior tweaks

2011 Ford Edge

2011 Ford Figo

Ford’s new India-built sub-B compact, the all-new Ford Figo is aimed at bringing a smart and affordable contender to retail and fleet customers

proton saga Malaysian carmaker Proton was a surprise entry in a show where many big brands were absent. As a result its models including the new Saga pulled a sizable chunk of show attendees


t the Oman Motor Show last month, organizers tried their level best to impress media during the pre-show conferences with a bounty of promises which included wider participation from the local players and lots of fun-filled activities for the visitors. Sadly, when compared to the other regional motor shows held last month, Oman’s edition was miniscule and came minus the promised frills. The face savers were a couple of new car introductions that seemed to be able keep the visitors’ interested. Among the participating brands, a resurging Ford was most prominent as it created considerable buzz after it rolled out its impressive offerings for 2011 headlined by the new 2011 Ford Edge, the new Mustang and the new 2011 Lincoln MKX. Besides, these regular models, Ford is also toying the sub-compact B-car segment with the India-built Figo (Italian for cool) hatchback, especially for specific markets such as Oman and Riyadh. The Figo, which has been developed by Ford in Australia and is based on a German platform, will be offered with two powertrains for the region: a 1.4-litre (80ps) Duratec equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission and the 1.6-litre (101ps) Duratec paired with a 5-speed automatic. As expected, Ford will slot the newcomer fivedoor/five-seater hatchback under the Fiesta to give the company a two-pronged light-car approach. From the Japanese brand perspective, it was Toyota, Lexus and Mazda holding fort at the show. Toyota had on show its regular array and also debuted the production version of its luxury Alphard MPV. Toyota is also widening the segment and is trying to reintroduce a two-door sports car from its global portfolio. Toyota thinks that the Japan-built Zelas [rebadged variant of second generation US-only Scion TC], which it has been selling in South America since 2008, should be the ideal ticket for the job. Meanwhile, Lexus adds its second hybrid for the region with the CT200H. This model is also the first hatchback of the premium brand for global markets. Kia’s freshened line-up was led by the recently introduced all-new Optima that wowed the crowds. Besides these three mainstream displays, visitors had a chance to catch up with the local clubs featuring classic and souped up cars such as the heavily modded Invader [based on Lexus SUV] and motorcycles.


{news} State-of-the-art Infiniti showroom opens at Qurum


n a glittering ceremony, Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, minister of commerce and industry, inaugurated the first exclusive showroom built on Infiniti’s unified global retail concept, Infiniti Retail Environment Design Initiative (IREDI) platform last month. Also coinciding with the launch of the new outlet, Infiniti unveiled the redesigned “M” range -- the allnew M37 sedan in addition to the M56. The M37 and M56 sedans come in rear-wheel drive configuration and will be offered with a choice of grade levels. The M37 can be specified in three different grades -- ‘Excellence’, ‘Luxury’ and ‘Sport’ -- while the M56 is available in two grades -- ‘Luxury’ and ‘Sport. “The luxury market is experiencing some

Xenatec does a Maybach coupe

dramatic changes in consumer behaviour. The need for creating the sense of “exclusivity” has been a big challenge for marketers of luxury goods and services,” said Colin Dodge,

Stylish all-new 2011 Volvo S60 joins regional line-up



he first Maybach 57S based coupe, dubbed the Cruiserio, is heading for a client in Saudi Arabia. The car has been designed by Burch Fred Hardt, also known to have penned the Exelero concept. Xenatec, a coachbuilder built the Maybach-endorsed conversion. The coupe combines sportiness and yet remains conservative in styling. Power is provided by a 6.0-litre V12 engine with 603hp and 1,000Nm of torque on tap. This enables the coupe to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in five seconds, before hitting a top speed of 275 km/h. Production is limited to 100 units and pricing starts at $892,455. The first production car is tagged at $945,295.

he Automotive Division of Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC launched the all-new Volvo S60 sedan from its showroom in Azaiba. The event was presided over by Tomas Ernberg, regional managing director, Volvo Cars Middle East and David Aziz, director automotive, MHD LLC. The Volvo S60 is completely redesigned for 2011 and is clearly a stylish car with clean and sophisticated design. The befitting interior also features as standard leather seating and aluminium trim. The dashboard comes with optional 7in display screen. But its under the sheetmetal where most of the changes have taken place. The chassis has been reworked to deliver the best handling possible. The allwheel-drive technology offers secure cornering and features a new system called Corner Traction Control by Torque Vectoring, which moves torque to the outside wheels to help BMW’s




executive vice-president Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA), India and Board Member of Nissan Motors. The showroom’s design highlights features that are energetic and modern with an accent on natural materials and open lighting. The layout provides a dramatic reveal of the Infiniti vehicles and highly convenient functional areas. The IREDI concept includes two aspects, a dynamic exterior which gives visitors a sense of warmth. A glass wall and the Infiniti logo with strong visual impact at night are some of the most distinctive features of the showroom from outside. Secondly, the interior includes a spacious separate lobby area and exclusive display area.


division Gert

steer the car around a turn without understeer. There have also been some suspension tweaks and the package now includes shorter stiffer springs, and stiffer bushings with more travel in the shock absorbers. The new suspension components along with front MacPherson struts and rear multi links sign off the handling department and then there’s a new steering with faster steering ratio. The software in the all wheel drive system has been modified to allow the four-wheel drive variants [fourwheel drive is standard in the T6] of the all-new Volvo S60 “to exploit the sporty new chassis to the limit. The new 3.0-litre turbocharged intercooled inline sixcylinder packs 304hp and 440Nm of torque at a low 2,100 rpm, which also represents an increase of 10 per cent over the previous S60 with a less powerful engine besides optimised performance in the fuel efficiency department. Also available are 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre engines in the S60.


Wolfgang Hatz will be heading the R&D division


for Volkswagen Group in addition to his current

Hildebrand, MINI’s design head for

designation as head of engines and transmissions

the last 10 years will be replaced

development next month. Porsche’s outgoing

by Anders Warming. Warming is

head of development, will take over as chairman

head of BMW’s exterior design,

of the executive board of Bentley Motors, as well

helping to create the BMW Z5,

as becoming the president and CEO of

5-Series and Concept 6-Series

Bugatti, besides the role of motorsport director for


the Volkswagen Group.

Prancing Horse amuses Bolt


sain Bolt, world-record holder and gold medal winner at the Olympic Games over 100 and 200 metres, experienced a special day in Maranello, where he tested a 458 Italia and 599 GTB Fiorano on the circuit of the Prancing Horse. The sprinter was excited in the cars as a passenger next to t h e t e s t-

drivers D a r i o B e n u z z i Raffaele De and Simone, while later on he completed some laps himself behind the wheel. At the end of the day he couldn’t hide his adoration for

the 458 Italia. “It’s a little bit like me, very reactive and determined!” Later on Bolt joked about the high heartbeat provoked by testdriver Dario Benuzzi, who showed him how to control the car on a wet track. “I was really scared, but it was a good being scared. I’m excited like a child.” “Today,” Bolt added, “I feel very close to the team. I am sorry for yesterday’s result, but that’s sport, I know what I’m talking about. There are ups and downs, but it’s important to know how to get back on the track and I’m convinced that Ferrari know how to do that.” The visit to the Works was concluded with a trip to the atelier, Ferrari’s personalisation area.

Renault Megane hatch for GCC


enault is turning up the heat on its rivals this season with the launch of its new Mégane hatchback for its fast expanding Middle East line-up. First shown as a concept car at the 2008 Geneva Motorshow, the production version remains faithful to the concept. The car has taken most of its design cues from the world of sport and in celebration of all things automobile. The hatchback will be offered with a choice of three engines and three transmissions – beginning with a 110hp 1.6-litre engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox, a 105hp 1.5-litre with 4-speed automatic gearbox and top of the line 143hp 2.0-litre engine with Renault-Nissan Alliance

developed CVT gearbox. Key USP of the car is attention to detail, widely adjustable seats, repositioned pedals for ease of use, best in class elbow room, easier to read dials and a raft of equipment from the next segment up including keyless entry and ignition. Active and passive safety packaging benefits from latest research carried out by LAB (the Accident Analysis, Biomechanics and Human Behaviour Laboratory of PSA Peugeot-Citroën and Renault) and includes ABS, EBD and Emergency Brake Assist. Depending on the version, ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and CSV understeer control are also available to assist the driver in difficult or emergency situations.

Facelifted 2011 Honda Accords now on sale


harpened inside and out, fuel economy gains and a broader application of popular features are the hallmarks for the upgraded Honda Accords – both sedan and coupe. For 2011, styling improvements have helped in improving aerodynamics, while technology applications to reduce engine friction and revised transmission gear ratios -- all contribute to fuel economy improvements, according to Honda. The revisited sedan’s exterior is more upscale and its powerful presence is partly due to its new grille, front bumper and trunk lid, along with a new wheel design. Meanwhile, the Coupe’s unique muscular stance is enhanced with a bolder front grille design, new front bumper shape, enhanced brake lamps and a new wheel design for V6 models. New for 2011, the most frequently used climate-control buttons are now positioned on the left side of the control console, closer to the driver for ease-of-use, and less-frequently used buttons are now positioned on the right side. A high output 190hp, 2.4-litre, 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine is standard in the Accord EX and EX-L Sedans and LXS, EX and EX-L Coupes. The 2.4-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder engine in the Honda Accord LX, LX-P and SE sedans produces 177hp. The available 3.5-litre, 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC® V6 engine produces 271hp and takes advantage of variable cylinder vanagement technology that can deactivate up to half of the cylinders while cruising to improve fuel economy.

Five stars for the MINI Countryman It hasn’t arrived yet, but when it does, it will address one of the main concerns that drivers have about small cars in this region – safety. The first MINI model with four doors and a large tailgate has claimed the top 5-star score in the latest Euro NCAP crash test results. In this internationally recognized test programme [which was further tightened in 2009 by the addition of more test criteria] the MINI Countryman put in a convincing performance with its wide range of standard- fitted safety equipment designed to ensure highly effective occupant protection for both adults and children in various types of collision scenarios.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars new regional office team: (l-r) Ernst Papke, regional support manager, Mohamed Yousry, regional after sales manager, James Crichton, regional director for the Middle East, Marcus Reil, regional marketing manager, Louise Knudsen, administration and accounts specialist, Alaa Tarabay, corporate communications manager and Ayman Ghanem, regional sales manager.


News Chevrolet announces arrival of 2011 Corvette Coupe and Grand Sport


he 2011 take on the classic Chevrolet Coupe and Grand Sport have arrived in showrooms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and the UAE. The Corvette duo arrive with host of upgrades including a premium audio system with navigation and a USB port now fitted as standard, in addition to available interior custom colour stitching. Externally, the Corvette is also available in two new colours: Inferno Orange and Supersonic Blue. The

Coupe also gets an optional performance dual-

mode exhaust which is available standard on the Grand Sport. New Eagle F1 Supercar GEN 2 tyres are available when combined with the magnetic selective ride control and manual

All-new 2011 Nissan Sunny breaks cover

Awards galore for 458 Italia


ontrary to expectations that the current South Korea-built SM3 would be rebadged as the 10th generation Nissan Sunny [actually the SM3 is rebadged as the Renault Fluence], Nissan surprised even the most seasoned analysts when it unveiled the all-new global sedan model at the 8th Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition last month. The first commercial launch of the Guangzhou-based Dongfeng Nissan built car will be in January 2011, followed by India in the second-half of the next year and then progressively across 170 countries. The incoming model features conservative styling with a prominent shoulder line, sweptback headlights, and Maxima-inspired taillights. The restrained design carries over into the interior, but there’s a unique circular theme which can be seen in the air vents, door handles, and climate control system. Power will come from a bulletproof HR15DE 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, which will


n 2010, the Ferrari 458 Italia continued with its award-winning performance by clinching several international and regional awards. It won the coveted title of “Performance Car of the Year 2010” from Car UK and ME magazine followed by a nomination by UK-based Fifth Gear’s “Fast Car of the Year”. The latter award comes on the back of raft of other international awards, including BBC Top Gear Magazine’s “Supercar of the Year” and “Car of the Year”, GQ Magazine’s “Supercar of the Year”, MSN Cars “Car of the Year”, and Auto Express’s “Performance Car of the Year”.

likely produce 108hp and 148 Nm of torque. As expected, the engine will be mated to an Xtronic continually variable transmission (CVT).

Another Porsche milestone nicknamed

involved into working out the looks

“Butzi”, son of Ferry Porsche, and

of a product. He never thought of

grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, is

himself as an artist like a designer

a German designer celebrated his

could be considered, but more as

75th birthday last month. Being

a technically talented craftsman in

born the first son of sportscar

shaping ideas. After stepping down

company founder Ferry Porsche

from the management of Porsche

FA Porsche was nearly destined to

KG, in 1972 he founded the “Porsche

Well it’s not a sportscar, but one of

be involved in the development of


the greatest creative minds behind

cars. His grandfather and his father

worldwide fame and recognition as

the first Porsche 911. Ferdinand

were engineers, but he got more

an independent product designer.



transmission on Grand Sport. The 6.2-litre V8 is the engine in Corvette and Grand Sport models. It is rated at 430hp and 575Nm of torque with the standard exhaust system while the optional dual-mode exhaust system helps increase output to 436hp and 580Nm of torque respectively. A standard six-speed manual transmission and an optional six-speed automatic paddle-shift automatic are offered. The Corvette does 0-100km/h in 4.2sec and has a top speed of 302km/h.





Kia Optima named “Top Safety Pick” by IIHS

Breaking news

Kia has released the



teaser of


2012 Picanto, ahead of its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The


he recently introduced all-new 2011 Kia Optima midsize sedan has already sent ripples in the market and there’s even better news for this car. Building on the momentum of Kia’s growing line-up of new generation vehicles, the new Optima has received the highest possible crash safety rating of “Good” in all four tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the US, and has been recognized as a “Top Safety Pick,” the top award handed down by the organization. Ratings from the Institute are based on results from front, side and rear impact crash tests, as well as a newfor-2010 roof strength test to measure occupant protection in the event of a rollover.

New advanced Bridgestone POTENZA tyres coming


n the first quarter of 2011, Bridgestone has announced that it will launch its latest technology advanced POTENZA tyres in the region. The new arrivals will succeed the current RE050 and RE001 ‘ADRENALIN’ tyres respectively. The successor to RE001 is the RE002 which will offer powerful control emphasizing stability in all situations, precise and accurate reaction and road manageability on various road surfaces while the S001 will come with cutting-edge tyre technology helping transforming sports driving into supreme opulence. The Bridgestone POTENZA brand was born in the spirit of motor racing and developed by Bridgestone to meet the requirements for circuit handling and sports driving. Bridgestone’s product excellence and experience in racing technology has seen the brand as the sports tyre partner for Sports Racing Series such as Formula One, GP2, and the Super GT series. POTENZA is used as OEM on of h i g h performance cars from Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Maserati, Lexus, Audi, Mercedes, and BMW.

new Picanto which has been styled at the company’s European design studio promises “to stand out from the crowd” by “exuding self confidence, solidity and maturity.” The model will be also be available in three- and five-door configurations.

Honda launches S1 in Guangzhou


nlike its glitzier motor show cousins in Beijing and Shanghai, which are held in alternating years and are aimed more at establishing China’s presence globally with product launches, the Guangzhou show has traditionally been aimed at domestic buyers. With most car makers wanting to take advantage of the attractive Chinese government incentive to purchase fuel efficient cars, hence there’s a new wave of fire in this segment. Marques from around the world were represented in Guangzhou, ranging from the mass market appeal of Hyundai Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp. to

prestige offerings from Porsche AG, Maserati and Aston Martin. Among the active new entries besides Nissan’s global Sunny, was Honda with its Li Nian S1 sedan. Honda says it has designed to target first time car buyers, the S1, is actually based on the previous Honda City platform. It does draw some inspiration from the Everus concept [see accompanying box] which debuted earlier this year. While the production model loses the Acura-style grille and LED headlights, it remains inoffensive and slightly bland. Honda will offer at least two engine options ranging from 1.3- and 1.5-litre. Although, final specifications haven’t been released, the bigger engine should be looking at offering around 120hp.

Everus concept This was jointly-developed by Honda and Guangqi Honda Automobile (previously known as Guangzhou Honda Automobile), the Everus concept car appeared quite futuristic with features such as LED lamps, sharp body lines and an Acura-inspired grille.


{abu dhabi motor show}

Never say never


Despite poor attendance by major carmakers at last month’s 13th Abu Dhabi International Motor Show, amidst free style dancing, LED screens, and pounding music, participating dealers were pulling out all the stops to make the show a success for the visitors


f one looks at a successful international motor show anywhere in the world, it’s that space which opens its doors to feature new models and interesting concept cars. And it’s not just the big world debuts that draw the crowds it’s the overall ambience and content. With the dismal Oman motor show past us, all eyes were on the Abu Dhabi International Motor Show which was officially inaugurated by HH Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy chairman of the board of trustees of the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation. In the past two editions of the Abu Dhabi show there has been an assortment of interesting cars ranging from manufacturers to privateers, tuners and modders. Although the platform has the patronage of HH Lt Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy prime minister and minister of Interior, between 60 exhibitors, around 200 vehicles were on display and the press day saw around 20 regional and UAE launches. Compared to the Oman show, it was like a terrier vs bull run and although not as effervescent as previous editions, Abu Dhabi was at least sincere in

content and presentation. Despite the valiant attempts to spruce up the show, a majority of regular motor show visitors felt it had been somewhat downgraded to the status of a retailer exhibition rather than a full blown motor show as the major brands and their respective principals especially German marques such as Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW were absent en-masse, as were premium brands such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, MINI and Rolls-Royce. In addition there was no presence whatsoever from Volvo, Honda, Nissan, Infiniti, Renault, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. This aspect therefore left the field wide open to just a few names who in turn took full advantage of the situation. As a result, General Motors, Ford and its brand, Korean brands such as Hyundai and Kia, and others such as Peugeot, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Maserati, Ferrari, Jaguar, Land Rover and Subaru were literally basking under the sun. Here’s a snap shot of who did what. Read on…


abu dhabi motor show


l Chevro

There’s a lot happening with this global volume brand of GM and Chevrolet unveiled two key new vehicles. Following a well-received premiere of the Camaro convertible at the Los Angeles International Auto Show last year, the second outing of this car was in Abu Dhabi. Susan Docherty from GMs’ international operations was specially flown in for the reveal. While GM thinks that the convertible is a natural next step following the immensely popular revival of the Camaro, it will be offered with a 312hp direct injection V6, and a top SS model with 6.2-litre V8 engine producing 426hp. A six-speed manual transmission will be standard, with an optional sixspeed automatic. The second car was the refreshed Korea-built crossover SUV, the Captiva which has been enhanced for 2011. The refreshed car gets a host of upgrades including a new interior, exterior, chassis in addition to acoustic advancements.



For this premium luxury and performance brand of GM which has maintained unbroken presence in the Middle East region for over 84 years, it’s not surprising to find it now clearly in a fast track mode. And as if on cue, the Cadillac stand was suggesting a new paradigm for the luxury sedan of the future -- the XTS Platinum Concept. The full-size sedan concept not only showcases Cadillac’s emerging topof-the-line Platinum series of models, but also suggests a befitting replacement of the DTS in terms of expressions of luxury and new technological features, including a plugin hybrid propulsion system. Meanwhile, also on display were the 2011 CTS Coupe and CTS V-Coupe, the new luxury sports coupe designed as the centrepiece of the brand’s freshened line-up.




It’s no secret that the Ferrari brand has a special place in Abu Dhabi which has a strategic partnership with the Prancing Horse. Premier Motors, the subsidiary of Al Tayer Motors, one of the UAE’s premier automobile dealerships were responsible for Ferrari’s participation at the show. Well, visitors to the stand who were expecting the see the new Ferrari 458 Challenge, which is among the latest in a line of racers to emerge from Maranello or the 599 GTO, an extreme V12 berlinetta developed to a specific performance-oriented brief, had to be content with the 458 Italia and California only.


The global economic downturn may have impacted the fortunes of many carmakers, especially in the US, but as a domestic player Ford has been a winner as a result of its very strong fundamentals – especially when it comes to products and application of technology. The biggest credit to the Blue Oval is that it has achieved all this without borrowing US federal government bailout money. Despite shutting down one of the brands – Mercury permanently, the company focus is now on Ford and Lincoln products and the portfolio planned for Middle East was quite interesting at the show. On display were the new 2011 Ford Edge SUV, Mustang V6 and GT and a Shelby edition. While there was keen anticipation for the forthcoming unibody all-new Explorer, on closer scrutiny it was interesting to note that every element of the incoming Ford Edge has been completely reworked, including powertrains, transmissions, exterior and a completely new interior design. Ford is also exploring new segments in the region, such as the compact segment with the Figo, a small hatchback built in India which has just won the prestigious 2010 India Car of the Year award with record segment sales of over 60,000 units.


abu dhabi motor show

GMC The SUV-specific arm of GM is definitely hungry for success and it has a couple of good reasons to be happy with its presence in Abu Dhabi. First, the Middle East region is still cool to SUVs, be it truck-based or the new trendy crossovers. GMC aims to be in both segments. The latest offering was the all-new 2011 GMC Terrain. The Terrain is a five-passenger crossover SUV that blends bold styling with fuel efficiency and premium features and has been designed as an appealing choice for existing traditional SUV customers who are looking for distinctive styling and increased efficiency. And hence it is offered with a new, 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine and 3.0-litre DOHC direct injected V6 engine. The second car from the brand was the Acadia with new premium Denali trim for 2011, adding a new dimension of luxury and exclusivity to this popular crossover. Like all Acadia models, it is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 VVT engine that uses gasoline direct injection technology to optimize performance and fuel economy. The other workhorses -- the 2011 Yukon which offers exceptional capability, comfort and refinement, as well as the Seirra Denali were also presented in full glory.



This South Korean car maker is on the roll. The year 2010 has been quite productive and profitable for the brand worldwide [see brandwatch on page 24]. At the show, the high point was the second global outing [after Beijing] of the all-new 2011 Accent [see our exclusive first drive on page 36] and the i-mode concept car besides the award winning Sonata, Genesis and other models. Juma Al Majid, the sole distributor of the brand introduced the vehicles. The i-mode concept is Hyundai’s own version of a futuristic MPV for trendy urban markets.


Jaguar Robin Colgan, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Middle East North Africa and Pakistan revealed the special edition of the Jaguar XKR. This is the latest evolution of the XK which has been designed to deliver performance.

The car’s top speed is up to 280km/h from 250km/h and bold exterior styling changes that create the ultimate supercharged Jaguar. This special edition also introduced two new optional performance and styling options called Speed Pack and Black Pack respectively. Alongside the XKR was the Jaguar XF, complete with a high impact new Black Pack kit.

Kia Al Majid Motors Company, the sole distributor of Kia Motors in the UAE put up an impressive show with the entire range of models. Among the key highlights of the show, besides a free style dance demo were the all-new Optima, Cadenza, Soul, Sorento SUV and Sportage crossover models. The completely redesigned Kia Optima made its world debut at the 2010 New York Auto Show and features an elegant yet sporty profile designed by Peter Schreyer. The car uses the new corporate grille, known as the Tiger Nose, which was also designed by Schreyer. The all-new Optima features Kia’s latest theta 2 2.4-litre 4- cylinder engine that’s powered either by a six-speed automatic transmission, or a six-speed manual transmission. Kia’s 2011 Cadenza luxury sport sedan is inspired by the KND-5 concept car revealed last April at the Seoul Motor Show. The car is powered by a 3.5-litre engine with outputs ranging 290 HP. All models feature front-wheel drive as well as a six-speed transmission.


v Land Ro

As expected, Land Rover finally unveiled a bright metallic red 5-door version of the 2012 Range Rover Evoque in its entirety. The smallest member of the Range Rover family will use a Ford-sourced 4-cylinder “EcoBoost” turbocharged engine. Expected to offer 240 hp, the 2.0-litre engine will be mated to a 6-speed automatic, with frontwheel-drive or all-wheel-drive options, and a choice of 19in or 20in wheels. Production of this model will commence for 2011 market introduction.

Lexus Once again, Lexus virtually lit fire at the show and that the brand was getting aggressive and widening its portfolio was quite evident at Abu Dhabi. Generating substantial interest on the Lexus stand was the recently launched high performance IS F alongside the production model of the V10-powered LFA supercar and the new hatchback five door hybrid, the Lexus CT 200h. There is limited allocation of the low volume LFA for the region and the carmaker will offer bespoke options to ensure that no two identical models will exist.


abu dhabi motor show

Lincoln Now positioned as a premium brand with new industry-exclusive technologies and engaging design featuring world-class craftsmanship and materials, Lincoln showcased its 2011 MKX midsize luxury crossover and refreshed Lincoln MKZ sedan. With Lincoln’s new signature look and powertrain refreshments, it wrapped off the brand’s portfolio and presence.



Premier Motors, the subsidiary of Al Tayer Motors showcased several Maserati models including the GranCabrio, the Quattroporte Sport GTS and the GranTurismo MC Trofeo. The Maserati GranCabrio is a convertible that can seat four adults in full comfort while the Quattroporte Sport GTS is for those who prefer the comfort of a luxury sedan with a sporty flair. The GranTurismo MC Trofeo is a track-only car and a prime example of Maserati’s sporty DNA and close connection to its motorsport roots.



Al Habtoor Motors presented the current array of Mitsubishi models it sells. No details about the outcome or fruits of the recent Mitsubishi-Nissan alliance were available.

Mazda It could be fairly said that Mazda’s presence at Abu Dhabi was more than a friendly surprise. Mazda’s recent resurgence [despite the rumours of Ford’s plans to sell the brand] hasn’t been dampened and the Hiroshimabased brand continues to entertain the masses with usable production models and concept cars. Besides Hyundai, Mazda was the only other manufacturer to have showcased a stunning concept car called Kazamai. In Japanese, Kazamai means ‘swirling crosswinds’, and was chosen to express the powerful yet nimble character of this stylish and compact crossover which has been doing the motor show rounds since 2008. Mazda Kazamai Concept is dynamic and athletic looking on the outside and displays an evolved Mazda Nagare ‘flow’ design. The 4,520mm long car features innovative body design including flared mudguards that emphasise SUV-like strength and a cabin befitting a sports car.


Peugeot Peugeot, which celebrates 200 years in business, pulled out all the stops with an impressive trio of new models -- 3008, 5008 and RCZ – besides its regular portfolio.

Toyota Arguably, among the Japanese brands, Toyota’s stand was by far the best in terms of presentation and content. It was one of the busiest stands at the show that was organised by Al-Futtaim Motors (AFM). Following Toyota’s global president Akio Toyoda’s desire to return to the affordable sports car market, AFM chose to host the Middle East debut of the rear wheel drive sports coupe concept, the FT-86G alongside the launch of the Zelas, a youthful sports coupe [rebadged Scion tC]. The FT-86G is the second derivative of the concept from the Japanese car manufacturer that previews a rear-wheel drive sports coupe coming in 2011. First unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon in 2009, the latest show car has a sleeker and more aggressive look, after the more rounded and shapely lines of the original concept. Under the new skin is a Subaru-soured 2.0-litre ‘boxer’ engine, now with a turbo and hence the inclusion of the intercooler and large intakes. The concept also features Recaro seats and 19in Bridgestones. Besides these, AFM had some interesting propositions for 4x4 enthusiasts. There was a special edition of Land Cruiser called Xtreme [which celebrated 60 years in 2010] and rugged versions of the Prado and FJ Cruiser. Both these and the specially prepared Hilux pick-up truck were prepared by off-road specialists for AFM.


Till now, Subaru has rarely participated in regional motor shows and hence it clearly the undertaker at the show with its presence. The low-profile brand in UAE surprised many with it new found dynamism, thanks to its active new retail partner Al Adiyat Automobiles LLC, which represents the brand in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. The Subaru stand featured the WRX STI, which seemed to grab a lot of attention

from both media and visitors. The WRX STI has been a recipient of continuous improvement since its introduction and most recently, the 2010 WRX STI Special Edition previewed some of the suspension enhancements which are now migrated to the 2011 models. Thorough and painstakingly detailed chassis development, including testing on Germany’s famed Nurburgring racetrack, has resulted in

the best-handling Impreza WRX STI models Subaru has ever offered. Besides the regular models, Subaru’s stand also featured a Forester-based variant and considering the past performance, Subaru can be forgiven for not showcasing the Impreza Design Concept from the recent LA show which is significant as it marks the introduction of the new 2.0-litre Boxer engine with the Lineartronic CVT.



2010 a year in review

Although, most automotive headlines were devoted to recalls, mergers and acquisitions, there were some bright spots too. Automan brings you the key highlights from a year that hinted slow recovery



The Ingolstadt, Germany-based automaker has played excellent innings in 2010 with a slew of new introductions and model updates. The tech-savvy company is now in an overdrive in what it says is key to laying the foundation for sustained, profitable growth and supporting its claim to leadership in the premium car segment. From 2011 to 2015 the company plans to invest about €11.6 bn, making this the biggest investment program in the company’s history. Meanwhile, Porsche will take over development duties for sports cars and large premium sedans within the VW Group, Audi will be responsible for developing large SUVs for VW Group brands, including Porsche.

Global sales crashed to about 4,000 in 2009, and the all-new Mulsanne and revamped Bentley Continental GT, arrives just in time as the Crewe-based luxury marque starts its long climb back to pre-recession sales of 10,000 cars per year. Bentley wants to take full advantage of a segment that is very much offer-driven. Bentley has made several important investments in powertrains and production and is gearing to broaden the brand’s appeal and attract more wealthy younger buyers.

The Munich, Germany-based carmaker may be overly preoccupied with sales growth for the moment with a slew of new models besides its bedrock 3, 5 and 7 Series. BMW Group has also recently registered the ‘i’ trademark for a new model series. As of now it seems BMW as a brand is trying to stretch, but at the same time we wonder if the core focus is being lost. In the first 11 months of 2010 BMW also crossed a milestone with 1.11 million units in that period.


A glorious year for the Prancing Horse, although it didn’t win the 2010 F1 title. Ferrari is now focusing on more technology in line with the changing world of high performance automobiles. A preview of such things to come has been promised by none other than Ferrari boss Luca de Montezemolo himself. Speculation is that the 2012 612 Scaglietti successor, which is expected to premiere in Geneva will feature the HY-KERS hybrid system which debuted at the 2010 Geneva in the 599 HY-KERS concept. Ferrari had previously announced it was working on a hybrid system to be put into production by 2015. It may be that Montezemolo simply decided to move up the launch date to 2012. Or the

Ferrari introduced in Geneva will be a seperate concept car featured alongside the expected 612 successor. Meanwhile, the new 458 Italia was in the news in 2010 for two contrasting reasons. Ferrari issued a recall of 1,248 Italias worldwide over a fire risk which reportedly consumed 10 vehicles. But the brighter side was that the 458 was showered with top accolades from the media worldwide. Besides product success, Ferrari’s branding and merchandising business also did well. On November 4, 2010, close to home, Ferrari World officially opened its first branded theme park at the Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The site is home to Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster!

Fiat, Chrysler Group LLC: Finally, under Fiat, the three American brands Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep which are grouped under Chrysler LLC began to breathe life again. Fiat currently owns a 20 per cent stake in the US automaker and can raise that further through a series of increments subject to hitting laid down targets. In a year more described as consolidation, the focus has been getting some key new models up and ready, besides refreshing some old ones. Meanwhile, Fiat officially split in to two distinct

business entities. Splitting up the “empire” as it was known had long been touted but until the passing away of former Fiat Chairman Gianni Agnelli, it was never a possibility till now. The splitting of Fiat group has also helped to mask Fiat’s problems during a period when it is also trying to integrate many of its automotive industrial functions with the Chrysler Group, which itself was trying to return to profitability after emerging for a bruising bankruptcy process in the summer of 2009.

Cadillac With the significant improvement in finances and market conditions, GM fast tracked many of the pending projects. First off the shelf were the coupe versions of the CTS and CTS-V.


2010 could be one of the best years for Ford Motor Company. Market share and profits were as good as they’ve been in years, and there is genuine buzz surrounding the Blue Oval’s cars and trucks. In US, even Ford’s stock has been returning good dividends. Riding on a wave of refreshed and new models, however, Ford still has to work hard and get rid of its junk bond status, which in turn makes it more expensive to borrow money. Besides all these, Ford also has to improve quality as has also been plagued with a series of recalls. The last recall in December involved around 15,000 2011 models that were built in a six-day period, including some 2011 Edge, F-150, F-250, F-350, F-450, F-550 and Lincoln MKX vehicles. NHTSA says that if the body control module shorts out, it could overheat and cause a fire.



Honda General

Despite the events of June 2009, GM emerged from bankruptcy stronger than expected. Now comes the hard part: Sustaining the income and repaying billions of dollars in government aid. To pay off all its shareholders, including the government, a United Auto Workers union health care trust, and its old bondholders, the stock market would have to value GM at more than $70bn. That’s almost double Ford Motor Co.’s market value of roughly $40bn, but far less than the total value of Toyota’s shares, about $120bn. There are healthy signs that GM is on track to do just that. Revenue is up 40 per cent over the first quarter of last year and GM went public again in November 2010. Its sales and financial performance is receiving a wave of positive reviews and level of confidence from investors is once again on a high note. GM was the world’s largest carmaker from 1931 to 2008, when it was surpassed by Toyota. The new GM is far smaller and leaner and unprofitable brands such as Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac have been shut down or sold. In its new incarnation, GM is proving that it can be profitable even with lower sales volume. In October, GM was on pace to sell about 2.2mn vehicles in the US which is about half as many as it did in 2005. The company reported profits of $4.2 billion over the first three quarters of 2010. On November 18 last year, GM wrote history with the largest initial public offering, by raising $23.1bn with an opening stock price of $35 per share. The sale cut the Treasury Department’s ownership stake to 26 per cent, from nearly 61 per cent.


Lexus The premium luxury and performance brand of Toyota kept punters in the region quite busy. The official performance ‘F’-based IS was launched and an allocation for the soon-to-arrive LF-A announced at the Abu Dhabi motor show in addition to introducing its first hatchback and hybrid model.


In August 2010, Geely Holding Group of China completed its acquisition of Ford Motor Co.’s Volvo unit at a cost of $1.5bn. The deal gave the small-but-ambitious Chinese automaker a chance to acquire a global brand amidst huge management challenges. The deal made headlines everywhere as it was China’s biggest foreign automotive brand acquisition and an unusually large deal for a private Chinese company. Ford acquired Volvo in 1999 for $6.45bn but had been trying to unload it since 2008 to raise cash and focus on its two remaining core brands. The marriage between the Chinese and Swedish partners seems to be holding. Expanding in China is key to Volvo’s goal of doubling sales to 800,000 cars in 10 years, and to do that Volvo may need as many as three plants in China. -Volvo

Infiniti The performance luxury brand of Nissan has been in a teaser mode for most of 2010. In fact, it was able to spring up a few surprises. In May, Infiniti filed papers with the US Patent and Trademark Office to trademark both the “IPL” and “Infiniti Performance Line” names. It was then suggested that Infiniti wanted to use the IPL designation as a sub-brand for performance-oriented cars and accessories to compete against the likes of BMW’s M and the Mercedes-Benz AMG - the respective inhouse performance divisions of those German automakers. Three months later, another trademark patent on the following car names: JX20, JX25, JX25h and JX30 were filed fuelling speculation that a mystery Infiniti model was on the way soon. Also in speculation on and off was a coupe but besides that all eyes are on the outcome of Daimler’s recent partnership agreement with Nissan which could pave the way for some future hardware swaps. On the product front, the new M’s were launched and close to home, the new standalone IREDI showroom of the brand was inaugurated.

<< the negative impact of an end to the incentives is subsiding gradually as carmakers are trying to stimulate market by introducing new models >>

Once an engineering-led enterprise with technology on par with the German premium brands, it has not being able to re-assert leadership in powertrains for a while. Design and product innovation is becoming duller and for depending too much on just a few runaway sellers such as the Accord, Civic and CR-V. Although several concept themes have been in circulation at global motorshows, there were no noteworthy production models introductions in 2010.

Hyundai and

Hot on the heels of a record-breaking 2010, South Korea’s closely-connected automakers are cautiously optimistic about sales for 2011. Hyundai and Kia are conservatively expecting a growth of a 10 per cent under current market conditions. This means Hyundai will post lower volume growth, yet it will still outperform the market. Hyundai clearly wants to avoid the Toyota experience. The two automakers’ massive new product onslaught will help propelled them to success in North America and Asia in particular. Although a tough exchange rate presents its own challenge mostly for the automakers, hopefully the volumes will compensate for that. Another fact that Hyundai top brass have reconfirmed: there are no plans for a sub branding premium models. Rather the focus efforts will be on customer experience enhancement. Kia


At a strategic meeting in April last year, Fiat’s executives discussed their current five year business plan with investors, divulging critical information about the Maserati brand. Two new models are expected to be released by 2014. One of the cars is set to debut as a high-end E segment model priced below €55,000. It would likely compete most with the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, BMW M5, and the Audi S6. The replacement to the Quattroporte will be the second model. The automaker plans to improve sales of the vehicle by reducing the base price of the car. Significant introduction for the region was the GranCabrio to the line-up.



This Italian supercar maker entertained the world with a string of teasers more than with actual production models or replacements. Not surprising really, as the Raging Bull saw it sales dropped from a record 2,430 cars in 2008 to 1,515 in 2009 and revenues fall from $654mn in 2008 to $384mn in 2009. In fact, the company posted a net loss last year of $48mn, compared with a record pretax profit of $79mn the previous year. 2010 was a year of transition for Lamborghini, in which it focused on positioning the brand for the next steps of its global evolvement in new Asia-Pacific markets such as Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong made significant contribution to sales with some markets growing at a rate of more than 100 per cent. Till the Paris Motor Show in September there were a series of teasers for the Sesto Elemento concept, which finally has been green lighted as a track only car. Information about a Murcielago successor trickled in, even with suggestions of a new name and finally Lamborghini chief Stephan Winkelmann embarked on a world tour to showcase the Murcielago replacement to selected clients and in November released details on its new V12 power plant which is expected to debut in the upcoming Murcielago.


Although, yet to sell a car, the company is moving ahead with its first production ready supercar, the MP4 12C. Top executives from the company showcased the car in Bahrain. Meanwhile, in November, a race-ready version of the McLaren GT3 spotted doing a test run on the track wearing a large rear wing at a European race track.


Curtains down for this mid-level brand of Ford after the Blue Oval officially made the decision to close it in June of 2010. The process of shutting down the Mercury has been formally completed. After the official announcement, in the months that followed, Ford offered its dealers money to stop selling the cars, with production shutting down in September. The last Mercury, a Mariner, rolled off the assembly line in the beginning of October and former spokesperson Jill Wagner said her good-byes to both the car and her job. Now the last piece of the brand has come down as dealers are removing any and all Mercury signage from their lots.


MercedesTata Motors-

In 2008, one of the most Jaguar Land significant shifts of clout in the Rover auto industry, Ford Motor handed over the keys to its high-class British Jaguar and Land Rover brands to Tata Motors, an Indian company perhaps best known for its heavy trucks. Tata Motors paid $2.3bn for the two brands that cost Ford $5.3bn. A year later, questions were being raised about the deal and its sustainability. Could Tata actually run Jaguar and Land Rover profitably as 10 months into the Indian ownership, the losses at the Britishmade luxury brands pushed an otherwise profitable Tata Motors to lose $468mn. But that’s all history now. In November 2010, Tata Motors’ consolidated profits surged on robust global demand for Jaguar and Land Rover as the once-troubled luxury brands enjoyed their fourth straight quarter of profitability. Consolidated net profit for the June-September quarter was $502.7mn, up from $4.9mn during the same period last year. China and Russia led sales of the brands globally. 20

2010 was also a pretty good year for M-B as it’s on a way to a record year in production. It is estimated that the German premium brand would have produced 1.2mn vehicles in 2010, beating its previous best year of 1.19mn units assembled in 2008. In the first 11 months of 2010, MercedesBenz brand sales were 1.06 million. BMW brand sold a premium marque leading 1.11 million units in that period. Audi sales through November for 2010 were 1,003,900 units. Mercedes-Benz and its performance arm AMG kept customers and media busy with an array of high performance merchandise. Benz

Aston Martin

A good year with strong sales. Even the One-77 reached sellout status. Aston claims to have sold 60 of the 77 vehicles that it will produce.


The year 2009 wasn’t particularly good for Mitsubishi but 2010 has been much better as Mitsubishi regained quite a bit of lost ground. Since November 2009, the car maker has registered thirteen consecutive monthly increases in production and sales worldwide. Total global production was up 11.9 per cent year-on-year [Nov ’09 – Nov ‘10]. Mitsubishi also enhanced its cooperation with Nissan. Currently both carmakers have several OEM agreements for vehicles in the Japanese market, including for mini cars and commercial vehicles. In addition to expanding the scope of the current OEM partnership, the two companies agreed to study new opportunities which would generate additional synergies.


Although, Ford is no longer Mazda’s top shareholder, the two companies are committed to their technical and strategic partnership. Ford, which had been Mazda’s top shareholder since 1979, cut its stake in Mazda to 3.5 per cent from 11 per cent in 2010. Meanwhile, Mazda is focusing on rolling out its next-generation engine technology that will improve fuel efficiency in gasoline and diesel vehicles. The company is taking a slower strategy when it comes to hybrid and electric cars, saying it wants to maximize efficiency in gasoline-powered engines first.


Some progress was made with India’s Mahindra formally inking a deal to purchase ailing South Korean Ssangyong Motors. Mahindra will invest $463.6mn in Ssangyong, giving the Indian automaker a 70 per cent stake in the company. We will still have to wait and see how things pan out as the deal is set to be completed by March 2011. Mahindra says it is committed to leveraging the combined synergies by investing in a new Ssangyong product portfolio to gain momentum in global markets.



The biggest news that came from the sports carmaker officially was that was in the game for building a smaller SUV to slot below the Cayenne. Without giving too much away, a company statement said that the Porsche AG Supervisory Board had given the go-ahead for the development of a new model series called the Cajun. Meanwhile, Porsche has hinted in a recent press release at a “spectacular” Detroit debut for an unspecified model. Meanwhile, consolidation between Porsche and parent company VW Group in sharing resources has reached another level. VW announced in December that Porsche would be leading its sports car and large sedan development, displacing Audi on heading several VW Group projects.


Quite unusual, but even Rolls-Royce Motor Cars wasn’t spared. The prestigious British marque recalled several hundred cars around the world to fix a fault with their braking systems. Despite the minor glitches, Rolls-Royce sold about 1,000 cars in 2010 and hopes to double those numbers in 2011. Much of the volume growth Rolls-Royce expects will come from the new ‘baby’ -- the Ghost. This new model is marginally cheaper than the Phantom range which includes the big flagship, the convertible and a coupe.


Key market highlights


Fueled by massive recalls in 2010 is a year the Japanese brand will not forget in a hurry. Although, not the only carmaker to be affected, but Toyota led the way with 7mn vehicle recalls spanning over 18 campaigns. Both those figures are far and away records for Toyota, with the company’s prior single-year record standing at 4.8mn vehicles in nine campaigns in 2009. Although Toyota has recalled nearly 12mn vehicles over the last two years, the Japanese automaker points out its reputation for quality holds up over the long run. Toyota’s attention to quality bench marking has traditionally been set very high and hopefully with Toyota’s experience, quality consciousness amongst global car makers will get top priority. Despite a difficult year and the loss of ace veteran test driver Hiromu Naruse, its product development and new model introductions for various markets is very much on target. India got its first entry-level Toyota in the form of the Etios, while Middle East got some interesting first time new models such as the Zelus, FT86G and luxury Alphard from the global model bank.


This Japanese marque is surely changing the rules of the game. Once a member of GM’s entourage and subsequently dumped, the company has proved that it is fit and healthy and can go alone. A strong player in Asian countries such as India [where it is number one by volume and sales], its potential has been acknowledged by Volkswagen, which also has very ambitious global plans. VW has picked up 20 per cent of MarutiSuzuki stake in India and the fruits of this union are expected this year. Meanwhile, new models such as the Europe-flavoured Kizashi sedan are expected to rewrite what mid-sized sedans from Asia can offer. Meanwhile, Suzuki Motor Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) have mutually agreed on OEM supply of Suzuki’s SOLIO compact passenger vehicle to MMC wef 2011.

<< carmakers will increasingly rely on growth in emerging markets like china, brazil, russia and india, while the Us, Japan and europe recover >>

Auto sales rose in 2010, but remained below highs 1.2010 was a mostly positive year for carmakers around the globe, with most markets outside Europe posting decent gains. 2.US sales rose to the highest rate in 16 months in December. 3.Even with sales of 11.6mn new cars and trucks, it is still considered worst performance in decades. 4.In the early 2000s, credit was cheap, incentives were rampant and sales topped 17mn. 5.China overtook US as the largest car market in the world.

6.One of the bright sides was that large car companies such as GM and Chrysler which had downsized during their bankruptcies are better off producing fewer vehicles. They no longer have to resort to costly incentives in order to clear out inventory. 7.The gains for the top US carmakers (GM, 7.5 per cent and Ford at 6.7 per cent) underline the stunning turnaround in the fortunes of these two carmakers. Meanwhile the traditionally strong Toyota, which has been struggling with the aftermath of the 2009 safety crisis, failed to make any significant sales gains last year.

Predictions for 2011 1. Carmakers are increasingly relying on growth in high-profile emerging markets like China, Brazil, Russia and India, while the US market is gradually recovering. The growth rate of the Chinese automotive market will slow down to 15 per cent as tax incentives are phased out. Private vehicle sales in China will exceed 18.7mn units per year by 2015 from estimated 11.6mn units in 2010. 2. India will become the world’s fourth largest passenger vehicle market in the next three years. Currently, the domestic passenger vehicle market is the world’s seventh largest and it is likely to grow at 15-20 per cent every year till 2013. If the emergence of over a dozen new cars made India a hot market for automobiles in 2010, there is more to come.





chiNa caps boom year For aUtomobile maNUFactUrers

Automan’s take: At the closing weeks of 2010, car makers were still putting on a brave show for the tens of thousands of potential buyers. Bustling Guangdong, one of China’s most prosperous provinces and host to the eighth annual Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition said it all. By the time 2010 was over, the final tally suggested 17.5mn passenger cars and light trucks had been sold in China and in 2011, sales are expected to grow by 10.5 per cent.GM is expected to have sold about 2.3mn cars and Ford sold about 305,000 vehicles. During the financial crisis two years ago, China’s government was eager to promote the


and captive market is their best hope as they struggle with weak domestic sales, especially in the US. China overtook the United States in 2009 as the world’s biggest car market, with sales surging 45 per cent to 13.6mn vehicles. Monthly sales this year have seen double-digit percentage growth. However, such an explosive growth is not expected to continue in 2011 because a tax cut incentive on new vehicle purchases is expected to be discontinued. In China, consumers enjoy a rebate of $450 on new cars with small engines and this policy will stay in place as the government seeks to encourage people to drive more fuel efficient vehicles.


now Fiat finds itself splitting into two distinct groups. As part of the The first is to be known as Fiat SpA, and will encompass the automotive brands, including Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati and, Fiat. The second arm Fiat Industrial SpA is expected to include Iveco, Case New Holland and French motorcoach division Irisbus. The de-merger was made in accordance with a shareholder vote.

hyUNDai-kia overtake toyota iN eUrope

Automan’s take: Look who’s laughing now! Recession or no recession, Hyundai’s European sales have climbed 4 per cent this year, totaling 521,369 units. While, recalls have put a massive dent in Toyota’s European sales, with deliveries falling 17 per cent to 511,754 units through the first 10 months of the year, Hyundai Motor Group – which includes the Hyundai and Kia brands – has overtaken Toyota to become the largest Asian car maker in Europe. The news marks a major milestone for the South Korean automaker. Hyundai’s achievement is even more impressive when you take into consideration that the European market as a whole is down by 5 per cent this year. With new models, great strides in design, safety, quality and reliability, these two brands are not to be underestimated when it comes to value for money.


Ferrari iN iNDia

Automan’s take: The Indian economy is on a roll and people are open to engage in luxury buys including fast cars. Get set for the prancing stallion. Ferrari, the famed Italian sports car maker, is all set to blaze on Indian roads, looking to tap the growing appetite of an emerged India for luxury. Part of Fiat’s stable, Ferrari will officially zoom on the Indian roads within the next six months, hoping to challenge rivals like Porsche and Lamborghini who are already present in the market. “Ferrari will enter the Indian market in the first half of 2011. India will be the 58th market in the world where Ferrari will be present,” said Valeria Costa, communications director of the Italian brand. Interestingly, the company has preferred to enter the market through the direct import route instead of using the support of Fiat’s Indian partner, Tata Motors. This means Ferrari will appoint an importer to manage the business. Ferrari is believed to be looking at top metros like Delhi and Mumbai for its debut. Industry sources said senior officials from Ferrari have visited India many times and have also had meetings with various importers of luxury brands. Ferrari hopes to sell models such as the California, 458 Italia, 599 and 612. The car won’t be cheap as import duties in India are around 110 per cent.

track oNly sesto elemeNto?

Automan’s take: Following the reception to the concept at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini is said to be strongly considering a production version of its Sesto Elemento. However, the production version of the Sesto Elemento concept would be track-only. This is according to Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini’s CEO. Winkelmann is keen to see limited 22

players. And it’s no secret that for many foreign automakers, China’s growing

Fiat oFFicially split

Automan’s take: With all the mergers and acquisitions going on in the automotive industry these days, few corporate structures have been as tumultuous as that of Fiat. The Italian group was once very centralized, but now given the operations and added responsibilities, it was better though to split its divisions into semi-autonomous subsidiaries. Meanwhile, Chrysler came in and


car industry as a way of boosting China’s economy and it seems that the effort has paid off for both domestic and foreign

production edition of the Sesto Elemento but due to current homologation and safety regulations, the new Lambo would likely be destined for track-only duties. Winkelmann has also indicated that production would be capped at no more than 20 units. Thanks to its unique construction, the Sesto Elemento should hit the scales at less than 2,200

pounds, all while boasting the same drivetrain as the Superleggera. This promises to be one very fast machine, but chances are it will carry a price tag to match. How about $1.34mn as befitting the limited edition production tag?


asia speciFic city cars From hoNDa aND toyota


Automan’s take: According to a well-known US-magazine, the Honda NSX project lives. We are aware that Honda had dumped the V10powered NSX project during the economic meltdown and now here’s the clincher. Honda engineers have built a prototype on an modified Accord platform. But isn’t the Accord a

8 Automan’s take: It’s no secret that Asia’s fastest growing major economies are beginning to demand country specific cars. Ever alert Japanese brands have been quick to notice this and take appropriate action. Last month, Toyota Motor Corporation and Honda Motors presented two impressive new city cars which seem to have been specifically designed at high-volume Asian markets. Honda took the covers off its new entry level Asian-market hatchback, the Brio, at the Thailand motor show, while Toyota unveiled the India-built Etios sedan in the presence of Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation. While Toyota claims that the Etios was specifically developed for India as it is virtually identical to the Etios concept, the production sedan model measures 4,265 mm long, 1,695 mm wide and 1,510mm tall and is powered by a 1.5-litre engine which promises to deliver respectable performance and exceptional fuel efficiency. A five-door hatchback variant dubbed as the Etios Liva will be launched in April with a smaller 1.2-litre engine. Pricing starts at US$10,950 and Toyota expects an annual output of 70,000 units. While the pint-sized Etios may be crucial for Toyota in India for its volume aspirations, interestingly, the platform and engineering in our research shows it is virtually identical to the current generation Yaris in the Middle East!


is the Nsx beiNg reviveD?

saUDi arabia to help bUilD low-cost sUv

Automan’s take: So it’s not with MercedesBenz help anymore. It seems to be sensible move by the promoters of the ‘Gazal’ SUV project, which is expected to roll out from


FWD vehicle? According to the said source, the Accord’s flexible platform allows it to be flipflopped to make it rear-wheel drive and also allow the automaker’s proven SH-AWD system to be grafted in a near mid-ship arrangement. This means power will come from either a 2.4-litre four-cylinder or a 3.5-litre V6.

Saudi Arabia with a sub $10,000 price tag for the domestic market to opt for an Asian collaborator, in this case Digm Automotive Technologies. King Saud University (KSU) signed a joint cooperation agreement with South Korea’s Digm Automotive Technology, Inc. for the creation of a $500mn car plant in the Kingdom. The agreement, which will involve the manufacturing of affordable automobiles including the “Gazal 1”, was signed by KSU rector Abdullah Al-Othman and Digm CEO YK Jeon.

traDemarks FileD by chrysler, bmw aND lexUs

Automan’s take: The last few weeks of 2010 saw a rush from carmakers to get various trademarks registered or patented. Ever since the debut of the reborn Challenger took place in 2008, US automaker Chrysler has hinted that it wanted to revive the Barracuda badge. But the fact that Plymouth bit the dust nearly a decade ago made the idea obsolete. Now, a revived Chrysler has apparently trademarked the nameplate Cuda, according to Allpar. BMW has registered trademarks for i1, i2, i3, i4, i5, i6, i7, i8 and i9, making us wonder exactly what the company has in mind for its newest subbrand. Initially we had thought that BMW may

revive the Isetta name as a sub brand. It’s too early to say where BMW will just hold on to these designations like other automakers who regularly register and re-register trademarks. The most promising is the Lexus application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for the ‘ES 300h’. This possibly hints at a new hybrid model by Lexus based on the ES 350 sedan which would perhaps borrow Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive System from the Camry hybrid. As Lexus intends on making itself the hybrid premium brand, particularly in Europe, it needs to distinguish itself from serious competitors such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

mclareN mp4-12c miDDle east DebUt Automan’s take: First the dealership infrastructure and now the actual car. McLaren Automotive’s high-end, high-performance sports car, the MP4-12C, was revealed in the region for the first time at the Royal Bahrain Golf Club. The 12C marks the beginning of a new era in core-segment sports cars. McLaren Automotive is in the middle of a world tour that will see the 12C visiting the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America. Following Bahrain,

the new model will continue its Middle East tour by visiting the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, McLaren has confirmed its plans to bring back the McLaren name to GT sports cars racing. From 2012, McLaren and CRS Racing will supply and support a limited number of GT3 racing cars based on the McLaren MP4-12C high-performance sports car for European-based privateers. 23


New drive, New emotioNs While new and freshened products will lead the Hyundai’s offensive in 2011 and onwards, the South Korean carmaker will focus more on image building than just outright volume | Author: Chandan B Mallik


s difficult as the past few years have been for the auto industry globally, automakers and analysts continue to hope for a better future. While 2010 has been a vast improvement over 2009, it is expected that buoyant markets such as China and emerging markets including Middle East will play a decisive role in 2011 and onwards. Nearly all automakers globally have benefited from customers’ renewed faith in the economic recovery, but few have fared as well as Hyundai from South Korea which has seen its fortunes moving upwards despite the global glut in sales. Although the brand is of South Korean origin, Hyundai Motor Group is the world’s fifth largest automaker and in less than a decade it has become a global volume player. In 2009, Hyundai Motor Company established an all-time global record with 2.4mn unit sales on a strong base of affordable, quality and desirable products. That’s not all. On the scale of its


management performance, the brand has achieved significant success – be it expanding its global production base [even during the global economic crisis when other carmakers where downsizing or closing down plants and retrenching staff permanently] or new product or segment introductions including performance and luxury. Hyundai has a global production base and the moment it has three manufacturing plants in Korea, one in US, two in China and India each, one in Czech Republic and Turkey. The newest plant in Russia will begin operations this month. On the quality front, a formal quality management programme was initiated in 2005 and the results are there for all to see. In an Initial Quality Study (IQS) conducted by JD Powers Hyundai got high scores [95 points] and effectively outclassed Honda and Toyota. Even in the overall category, which also includes premium brands, Hyundai is ranked

fourth after Lexus, Porsche and Cadillac and outranked Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. On the engineering front, development of efficient powertrains has been a key focus area. Considering that Hyundai began its career with borrowed engines and components, it is now self-sufficient in design and production. What’s more, Hyundai’s engineering excellence has also been recognized. The carmaker’s all-new Tau 4.6-litre V8 engine has received critical acclaim from industry for its superb performance and has been rewarded twice by Ward’s Autoworld, the equivalent of engine design Oscars. Contrary to what many people still think about Hyundai as a brand and experience with its products, the carmaker has actually been selected for the fifth consecutive year among top 100 global brands and is placed at 69. Amongst car makers, Hyundai currently ranks at #8, and surprisingly sits above Porsche, Ferrari and Lexus. In fact, it takes the subject

<< one of the major jobs hyundai has identified is to unify the brand globally among all distributors in terms of corporate identity and image >> quite seriously and had embarked on an from perceptive factors which usually began serious focus area besides new products. And ambitious programme of quality management at showroom level. Hyundai top management this is where the Dealership Enhancement – to achieve third place within three years and with whom Automan met last month in Seoul Programme (DEP) comes into effect. Although conceived in 2005, Hyundai’s DEP has been fifth place in global standing for ‘perceived HQs admit that. For 2011, Hyundai is cracking the whip in very effective and successful in markets quality awareness’ within five years. The first wave has already begun with the new models an elaborate and ambitious programme to such as India. As part of the drive, Hyundai – Genesis, Centennial, Sonata and Tuscon in enhance its retail activity in export markets will begin with the ‘Showroom in Showroom’ concept as a starting point. The idea 2010 and to be followed by is to ensure that the luxury models other models such as Accent, such as Centennial, Genesis have Elantra and Azera in 2011. their own special area and customers One of the keys to Hyundai’s receive the special care effectively as consistent performance is its Clearly a brand on the move, no matter what the economy luxury vehicles in their own right. investment in research and dictates, careful planning with appropriate and freshened product Meanwhile, the product portfolio development, which is about lines, investment in engineering and future technologies [electric, for 2011-12 is quite interesting and five per cent. Even during the hybrid, hydrogen etc] will ensure Hyundai’s and consumer it seems that Hyundai is working on downturn, this figure was not aspirations are well met. That leaves one unanswered question: country specific models alongside its compromised. will Hyundai opt for a new brand name for its premium models? global repertoire. Hyundai’s new car for Middle East is an important The truth is that the idea was considered several years ago, but Europe will be called i40. Codenamed market for HMC where Hyundai thinks it is better off continuing working on the existing ‘VF’ during development, it has been regional sales contribute brand. designed at Hyundai’s European R&D around 8 per cent of HMC facilities in Rüsselsheim, Germany. global sales and despite being a volume car producer, Hyundai hasn’t with particular focus in the Middle East, The new i40 is the company’s first D-segment achieved the success rate it enjoys elsewhere. besides BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China]. model to be specifically developed for the It seems that despite sitting on very strong The South Korean car maker has now reached European market. Entry level models such product let fundamentals, one of Hyundai’s a staged where it need not aggressively as the current Accent and Elantra are due to weaknesses is its image as perceived at push value for money metal [although it will be replaced will all-new models in 2011 as retail level in some markets. While Hyundai continue to do so with the entry level cars], but will the mid-sized semi luxurious Azera. The and Kia beat Toyota to clinch top spot in a instead create a new ambience and ownership fifth-generation Azera represents the latest conservative European market, thanks to experience at all levels. This is part of an all- interpretation of Hyundai’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ region specific products and support of strong new brand strategy, according to top officials, design language as seen on the new wave of retail partners, consumer response in some with whom Automan had exclusive discussions models ranging from the new Tucson, Sonata, markets in the Middle East has been behind. in South Korea last month. However, as part incoming Elantra and Accent and others. Research has suggested that Hyundai suffered of the business plan, image building is now a

Automan verdict



equipped for

the future

Tomas Ernberg, Regional Director of Volvo Cars Middle East was in Muscat to launch the all-new Volvo S60. Automan met up with him and explored the state of affairs in Volvo Cars at the present point in time | Author: Raj Warrior


Welcome back to Oman. You are here at an exciting time for Volvo, with the launch of the S60. How has the car been doing worldwide? TE: The S60 has just been launched. It is a bit too early to judge but we can say that the Volvo S60 and the V60 are nominated for the Car of the Year, which is very good news in Europe. Sales have started on a good note in Sweden and the roll-out across Europe is gradually taking place. We are launching here in the Middle East at roughly the same time that the launch is happening in Europe, with 3 countries already having the car launched and today we are here to do the same in Oman. In your opinion, has the car come to the market on time or has the process taken longer than expected? TE: If you ask me personally, yes I wish it would have come here before. We have waited quite some time for the new S60. But we have to understand that Volvo is quite a small company worldwide. We are 1% of the total industry volume we do not have the luxury to produce 5-6 models a year. We produce the safest cars in the world and in the process we take our time in a manner of speaking. But with the sale of Volvo from Ford hands to Geely, we anticipate a far greater investment in more models and coming quicker to the market. Last year, through the end of 2008 and through 2009 we introduced the XC60, now we introduce the S60 and next year you can expect the V60 and the year after we have two new models coming out. So it is improving and much better than the 1980’s where you had the 240 for 20 years. It still isn’t at the pace I would like to have it, but it’s exciting regardless. Could you touch on how Volvo Cars has performed over the past years in the region? TE: Worldwide, Volvo has recorded a profit for the first, second and third quarters this year and this is the first time that we have recorded a profit for the first quarter since 2007. Three years have passed during which Volvo has been making losses and it is very positive news that just after the crisis or even as the crisis lingers, that Volvo is able to produce a profit especially on the back of huge losses in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Even during the crisis Volvo continued to invest and the results are being felt now. At this point we need more focus, more capital investment if possible. How have your customers taken to the fact that Volvo is now no longer owned by Ford but Geely? Would you see a negative reaction to that? TE: Not really. I am not sure how many customers even knew that Volvo was owned by Ford in the first place, for ten years that too. I am sure that most customers are not

aware of what’s happening in the backrooms of the auto industry and the alliances that are struck. Some of these alliances have seen Indian companies purchasing premium English brands. I think that in the long run if Geely can keep Volvo completely separate from the Geely company, then I think it will be a success. Would you also see Geely products gaining in the process in terms of an increased Volvo character in their cars in terms of safety and performance? TE: The Geely holding group has various companies below it, one of which is the Volvo operations and another one is the Geely automotive company. These are completely separate operations but of course we will be able to share technologies and development processes especially in safety and that will of course help Geely leapfrog ahead several years in development and that will be good for them, but that said Volvo will still have to stay 100 per cent independent. Geely is very clear about that, Chairman Lee is a very clever man and he thinks that having Volvo stand as a separate premium brand is the best thing for Geely. The worst thing that could happen is if they tried to integrate the brands. Back to your point, no I don’t think customers will know. Volvo will remain a Swedish brand, governed by Swedish law and operate under the Swedish stock exchange. We will continue to have our factory in Sweden and our headquarters in Sweden and the current management continues. So we remain distinct as Volvo and Geely respectively. As you indicate, Volvo looks set to profit from this alliance as a source of technology for its partner. TE: Yes. I have to agree with that proposition. Coming back to this market – how has the XC60, which you launched last year, fared? Has its technological improvements been accepted by consumers? TE: The XC60 has been a worldwide success. Looking at the Middle East it is our biggest selling model. City Safety comes as standard

with the car worldwide and that is just fantastic new technology. The S60 in its new guise takes us a little further in terms of pedestrian safety. It is true that the cars are becoming much more technological as you say, but I think that also appeals to a customer group that previously would not have considered Volvo too much, instead preferring other premium brands. We have seen that happen with the XC60 and I think we are getting there. With the S60 we will position ourselves very well against competition. We’ve been dying to ask about the two new models you have touched upon, slated for release in 2012, which we believe should be the XC30 and the five-door variant of the C30. Can you tell us anything about them? TE: it is under discussion but for the moment the names of these models will be the XC40 and the V40. These are models that will take you into completely new territory for the brand. How are you geared for that? TE: Volvo has seen growth in many areas especially in the XC segment, with the success of the XC60 and we expect good demand for the XC40. I don’t want to talk too much about this at the moment, as you can understand. What are your hopes for the S60 in this market? TE: Incremental volume, increasing brand awareness, increasing the appetite for Volvo Cars. People should feel, “I want to own the Volvo S60” for its style, performance and technology plus it being the safest car in the segment.




In natural habItat omanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sand dunes and flowing wadis provided the perfect setting for the updated for 2011 land rover lr2 and lr4. automan decided to discover more of the country and its awesome terrain with the duo | Author: Chandan B Mallik




aving driven Land Rovers for quite a few years, one can admit being acquainted with the brand, engineering and remarkable developments in its product line. However, there is one common aspect about the vehicles from the Indian Tata Motorsowned British marque that has impressed most in particular is its extraordinary breadth of capability as a SUV – irrespective of its type. Whether in Scotland, Gaydon, UAE or Oman, the scope and breadth of every Land Rover’s is striking. One moment you could be cruising on motorways at 120km/h on beautifully damped air springs, ensconced in soft leather, the next you’re nearly door handle deep in a wadi. While for many, it may seem prudish and unimaginable that anyone would want to subject their cherished personal transport to this kind of abuse, but frankly that’s what every Land Rover is engineered to do. What’s more, both 2011 LR2 and LR4 have been upgraded and continue to serve up luxury and off-road performance with many notable refinements. The smaller LR2 was introduced as a completely new vehicle for 2008 and is a good attempt by the marque to fill the brand’s entry-level position by delivering the luxury, prestige and off-road prowess of the brand’s flagship models in a more city-oriented and user-friendly package. The car was developed under Ford and it replaced the Freelander. It’s not surprising that the unibody LR2 was closely developed in cooperation with Volvo [then member of Ford’s Premium Automotive Group]. As a result, the LR2 when introduced to customers for the first time it offered some Volvo designed production components with refinements by Land Rover. The LR2 is powered by a 3.2-litre inline-6 that produces 230hp and 234 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. Meanwhile, the LR4, as its name suggests, is the fourth generation of the vehicle that helped reinvent Land Rover more than two decades ago. Essentially, it is as good as a rebodied Range Rover with a lower price and three rows of seats. The Discovery [as it was known before in our markets] was a terrific off-roader, but less-than-refined once on asphalt. In some cases it also suffered from some reliability issues. Land Rover redesigned the entire package for 2005 by combining ability with luxury and also changed its name from Discovery to LR3. The LR4 as a successor takes this level further with a host of refinements including some exterior revisions and new Jaguar-sourced powertrains. For 2011, the LR4 is mostly stock aside from some


minor equipment juggling. The car’s front face appears to have been heavily inspired by the larger Range Rover, especially after its 2010 update. While the sheetmetal profile screams “Discovery,” but the extra detailing definitely comes from Range Rover. At 190in from head-to-tail, the LR4 actually isn’t quite as big as it looks. In fact, it is marginally longer than the outgoing Jeep Grand Cherokee. Its greenhouse is quite tall and gives it the ‘safari’ style of the Discovery, but thanks to its lowered suspension, it sits quite low to the ground. Lifestyle accoutrements include bodycoloured bumpers and large 19in seven-spoke alloy wheels. For 2011, Land Rover offers enhanced interior features and its package includes black lacquer finish on smooth, flowing surfaces and a centre console that is inclined toward the driver. The steering wheel is busy as usual with an array of switches for things such as the audio system, cruise control and driver information system. Full leather seating is luxurious, dual-zone climate control and a power tilt-and-slide sunroof are now part of the standard LR4 kit. That’s not all, there are factory options available for personalization. A choice of natural-finish woods is available, along with stitched and wrapped fascia and door casings. LED mood lighting is all over. Critical information for the driver is displayed on a five-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD screen in the instrument cluster. At the top of the central console, there’s a hard-drive navigation system. Some other electronic features that are deserve a special mention are the Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) swivelling headlights, Automatic High Beam Assist (AHBA) and most impressive of all, a surround camera system. The system uses five digital cameras located around the vehicle to offer a nearly 360° view from inside the vehicle. The images are projected on the navigation screen. Although LR4s don’t offer the supercharged V8 of the Jaguar or Range Rover Sport, to work efficiently in this car it has been modified for severe duty use – so it can ford water, go up inclines and perform sand duties. Among the model specific modifications, the LR4 engine uses a deeper oil pan to maintain engine lubrication at high lean angles when off-road. Every electric motor, pulley and bearing, the starter, alternator and air conditioning compressor has been waterproofed and hence there’s no fear of these getting affected during wadi wading. The standard engine offered in the LR4 is now a Jaguar-sourced 5.0-litre V8 that

over r d n a l a f o n io al definit n io it d a r t e d the h t e , ll a c le x a For many d li o with a s v U s d e f o o -r r2 or l h e h t t a h t is the hig n a esnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t me o d t a h t t u b . r common Defende in s g in h t w e f ave a lr4 doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t h 31


teriors in d e d a r g p u d issions an m e e in g n e he new t d e r o f s e n reduc li d a e ke the h a m ll a s r io r e t and ex ver lr2 o r d n a l 1 1 0 2


pumps out 375hp and 375 pound-feet of torque. This power is pushed through the six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. To utilize this power off-road, each LR4 features a two-speed transfer case and locking differential, all electronically controlled. The transmission also has a sport mode, which gives the driver full manual control of gear changing. A couple of months ago we had tested the LR4 in Khasab region and it was a delight to have the car again. We just loved the Land Rover’s Terrain Response Control system which is standard on all LR4s. Its rotary control knob has four pre-set points for different terrain – general driving, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts and sand. Our experience in Oman reconfirmed our firm belief in the system and its ultimate ability. For 2011, there are two additional functions, Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control.


Oman’s terrain is varied and perfectly suited for this class of vehicle. In fact, the terrain is also a preferred test bed by many car makers these days. Our convoy of cars headed out from the heart of Muscat city using the highways and eventually driving through gravel and water-filled wadis for the off-road section before reaching our night halt destination – the Desert Night Camp. Although, this secluded and well-kitted camp is only a two-hour drive away from Muscat, we took the longer than usual scenic route and reached shortly after dusk. The camp is sprawled across 10-acre of silken sands and is sits conveniently in a pure sand valley within the vast isolation of the desert. We spent the night in one of the 30 luxurious Bedouin style tents. Keeping the smoothness of the V8 engine aside, the LR4 steers and handles remarkably well for an off lifestyle vehicle. I particularly the nicely weighted steering and on road it is actually more precise than many car-based crossovers. Meanwhile, there’s no second opinion about its ride, which is positively luxurious, thanks to a fully independent suspension which has also been optimized for off-road wheel travel with the help of three-way height adjustable air springs – key hardware definitely which makes for smooth going. As a lifestyle car, it also has low-rider Access Mode, while the Off Road Mode lifts the suspension. The car also has automatic load leveling [more useful in hauling jobs). The key thing we noted during the day drive besides a very smooth engine, flawless

performance of the improved ZF six-speed transmission which shifts very quickly and quietly, up or down, was that there is very little body roll for a hefty SUV that rides this high off the ground and has a high centre of gravity. Considering the treatment we gave the car during the off-road and wadi stretches, the LR4’s upgraded larger ventilated front discs and four-piston calipers up front and ventilated rear discs and twin-piston calipers combination worked quietly and effectively even when driving through water that covers them completely. In the LR4, the brakes are also tied into the standard dynamic stability control system and the roll stability control system, which acts 24/7 to keep the SUV on its intended path if and when cornering speeds are too high for conditions. Day two of the programme began quite early in the morning. The surface of the sand usually hardened overnight, but for us working in a convoy, the trails became a bit harder as the surface broke for some drivers. The sand part of the driving experience was exciting as well as technically challenging for the drivers as it is a combination of driver’s sharp skills and competent hardware that ensures a successful manoeuvre out here. Both the LR2 and LR4 are equipped with dedicated hardware and computerized software to help the driver take either vehicle through tough stretches of trail terrain or sand. The LR4 offers its driver a wide choice of driving modes at the flick of the consolemounted Terrain Response wheel, with settings for general driving; grass/gravel/ snow; sand; mud and ruts; and rock crawling. The sand setting has been revised for minimal wheelspin, and the rock crawling mode has quicker responses to lost traction in the LR4. Hill Descent Control, pioneered by Land Rover, has been sharpened as well, and is controlled by a separate console button. The LR4 is possessed of amazing off-road capabilities over every kind of terrain and can slog through almost 28 inches of water. While we changed cars at frequent intervals giving both the LR2 and LR4 equal opportunities to be driven, nowhere did one think about the Volvo connection in the LR2. This is because, there’s no hint of it as the LR2 strongly embodies Land Rover’s off-road heritage with 8.3in of ground clearance, standard all-wheeldrive and plenty of electronic aids to help navigate treacherous terrain. Similar to its bigger brethren, the LR2 also soaks up potholes with ease while the passengers remain cosy and undisturbed. However, the baby LR2



suffers from sluggish acceleration, the main culprit being a combination of a heavy curb weight and a modest output from the engine. Although, the LR2’s off-road bias also limits its handling capabilities on the asphalt, we have no real issues with than since in ‘real time’ we expect this where it’s going to spend most of its time. Our main niggle was with the steering which feels uncommunicative and the soft suspension setting which results in body roll when cornering. On the other hand we are happy with the brakes which are capable and have a solid pedal feel. As a total package, it doesn’t mean that the car is shy or an underperformer. Its all-wheeldrive system directs most of the engine’s power to the front wheels, sending some drive to the rear wheels only when off-road conditions dictate. While the lack of low-range gearing may deter some of the car’s outright ‘go-anywhere’ capabilites, but the Terrain Response system chips in to compensate by optimizing engine, transmission, center differential and assorted systems to increase mobility in four user-selectable conditions: general driving, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts and sand. Compared to the LR4, the cabin is more utilitarian than luxurious and its cargo capacity is less than many competing luxury crossovers provide. One of the great things about Land Rovers is the command seating for the front occupants. An upright seating position actually provides plenty of legroom and headroom for larger adults up front, but some passengers may find the low-mounted rear bench a bit uncomfortable. From the driver seat, the instruments and controls are a bit busy and sometimes hard to read at a glance due to glare or reflections, but the optional navigation system is simple and intuitive to use.



We must not forget, that to its credit, Land Rover was among the early birds to have embrace the small luxury crossover formula much before most other luxury brands -starting with the Freelander and now the LR2. Despite strong fundamentals, the benchmark standard in the segment in which the LR2 has risen tremendously with the focus on allaround competence. This means the LR2 has to work harder to get its rightful spot. The LR4 scores top points in all departments and is a very difficult vehicle to flaw easily now especially with the new enhancements in the efficiency department. The LR4 offers bundles of power and torque, useable and flexible interior space and plenty of luxury touches befitting the model.

ments e v o r p im y b d enhance is 4 r l e h t , 1 he form t in m e For 201 t s y s ponsetm s e r in a r ration r e le t e c c a t to the n ie d and gra t is s s a t r a t s of hill control 35


Rising staR could hyundai be setting a new benchmark in the compact segment? thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the impression automan got during the first drive of the fourth generation all-new 2011 accent in seoul last month | Author: Chandan B Mallik





ew companies have ever come close to the legendary levels of success Hyundai Motors has had even at a time when most of the industry has been reeling under the pressure of global economic downturn. Amongst the global players, Hyundai can boast of having the freshest models in its lineup. The surprisingly well-executed Centennial and Genesis at the top end of the food chain has proved Hyundai’s exceptional competence in the high-end of the luxury or sports sedan market, and Hyundai’s renewed product drive to introduce seven new or redesigned models in 24 months has yielded several freshfaced offerings, including the midsize Sonata and Tucson. For 2011, the focus is on entry-level models such as the Accent and Elantra which have been given a total overhaul. The fourth generation all-new Accent is expected


to hit the region within a couple of months. Hyundai hasn’t forgotten that it entry price point models are still crucial to the company’s bottomlines and this aspect makes the all-new Accent a crucial role player in the product lineup for markets like Middle East. As with the industry trends for successor models, manufacturers usually take an incremental approach to improvement, but the incoming Hyundai Accent addresses most of its shortcomings with an aggressive eye towards design, performance, weight savings and even fuel economy. The exercise begins with a sleak

new bodywork with strong character lines

and surface treatment that typifies Hyundai’s fluidic-sculpture design language. Up front, the car wears the same handsome grille found elsewhere in the new breed of cars. The headlamps are much more aggressive than before and seem to extend from the nose to almost the middle of the sharply defined wheel wheels. The lower valance has a large central air scoop flanks on the sides with pretty stylish L-shaped fog lamps. Over all, the front end has matured from bland [in the outgoing edition] to sporty. The rear end treatment is quite significant as it is now very similar to that of the stylish Sonata. Over all, the job of re-bodying car on the carry over platform seems to have worked quite well. And Hyundai isn’t the first manufacturer to apply this philosophy. In fact, the current Ford Focus was also re-bodied when it was introduced a

few years ago as a new model. Interestingly, the dimensions of the incoming Accent is identical to that of the outgoing car and yet the new model appears quite compact and well proportioned. Hyundai have confirmed that model will be available as five-door and there are no plans for a coupe version. While the new design elevates the model to a stylish entry level model, but it’s the interior that does most of the talking in this car. The dashboard borrows the stylish wave-pattern in the Sonata with pods for the key instrumentation. The dials are backlit blue and white and the digital information centre sits in-between the tachometer and speedometer, and displays information such as fuel, temperature, trip and odo. The central console has also been visited – it gets a new free-flow design and hosts controls for airconditioning, CD, MP3 player, a large TFT screen and a smaller digital screen below it for air-conditioning related data. Even the base level gets power windows with driver’s autodown. Lower on the centre console is a small storage container and behind the shift lever is an open bin with USB, auxiliary and 12-volt powerpoint, a great place to keep an iPod or phone. The test model was one of the upspec cars with sunroof, Bluetooth, steeringwheel audio controls, cloth door inserts and a few other niceties, seven-inch touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera, a 360watt sound system and automatic headlight and 17in alloy wheels. The build quality in this car is phenomenal for the price point. It has soft touch surfaces which have the effect of distracting you from the fact that the rest of the dash and door panels are also using a combination of fabric and plastic. The hard surfaces are nicely grained and the material and fitting is more along the lines of what we would usually expect from a premium branded car, let alone a budget compact. Put the two together, though, and you’re rewarded with a combination that looks not only looks gorgeous, but feels too. Simply put, we love it – especially in the dark and light grey combo of our tester. Hyundai have also done a great job of making sure that nearly anyone can fit behind the wheel. The driver’s seat can be positioned so far back that someone of normal height will have no chance of reaching the pedals or the

tilt only steering wheel. Besides the flawless ergonomics, it is the head and leg room that is most impressive for this class of vehicle. Four adults can really travel in comfort. Under the bonnet, there’s a choice of either an in-line 1.4-litre DOHC or 1.6-litre DOHC engine which are good for 106hp and 121hp respectively. Interestingly, both engines come with the latest technology in variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. While most new cars in this segment and above are eschewing traditional cogged gearboxes in favour of CVT set-ups, for now Hyundai have refrained from doing so in the new Accent and hence it retains its four-speed automatic or five-speed manual set-ups. Meanwhile, the new Accent also offers a generous list of safety features following the footsteps of its predecessor. Safety features for all Accents include front seatbelt pretensioners along with six airbags: dual frontal, front-seat side-impact, and full-coverage side curtain. Head restraints are adjustable at all five seating positions, unusual for this price class. The Accent is one of the least expensive cars on the market with these important safety features.

Driving impressions Our test drive began with the bigger engine car from Hyundai-Kia HQ in the heart of Seoul towards the mountain highways though a maze of tunnels and toll-cum travel plazas that are spaced regularly along their length and a loop back. Behind the wheel of the 2011 Accent, we were quite pleased with the smooth ride quality of the car. Engine performance is also respectable for a small car, but the four-cylinder can sound noisy and the four-speed automatic copes well with the torque [but we think it will quickly fall in the outdated category considering that most of the competitors are offering five or six-speed automatic units]. Actually Hyundai have tried to extract optimized performance and fuel economy in this package which competitors are trying with extra cogs and taller ratios. To its credit, the Accent has commendable steering response and feedback when driven hard. And honestly, in the beginning I was thinking that why would anyone buy a Hyundai Accent expecting it to sizzling performance,

yet the 1.6-litre four-cylinder GDI engine is surprisingly preppy, even with the four speed automatic transmission. The car had no problem keeping up with traffic and you don’t’ need to stomp on the accelerator pedal to wake it up either. At 100 km/h on a level highway, we noted acceleration is quick off the line, but surprisingly mid-range punch is quite strong despite tall gearing. Actually, it’s the DOHC/CVVT combination that helps give the engine a broad power band and that factors in why it’s more than happy cruising at speed on the freeway at low engine revs. When in the city stop and start traffic or on the highway, our drive with the Accent was notable for its quiet interior and comfortable cruising ability. Apparently, Hyundai went to town on the sound insulation and have done a good job in keeping exterior noise at bay. Although fuel efficiency and low emissions are top on the list in many countries, especially US, Europe and emerging markets such as India, Russia and China, the Accent being a global model is factored in with high fuel efficiency and low emissions. Interestingly, the automatic gearbox versions are slightly better on fuel efficiency than the manual on the highway because its overall top gear ratio is numerically lower. The car’s ride is on the soft side and the suspension is quite supple and good in absorbing surface imperfections. The power assisted rack-and-pinion steering provides reasonable feedback and the handling proved to be quite interesting on some winding mountain roads we encountered. Overall, the driving characteristics and performance make this a perfect commuter car rather than a long distance cruiser. Perhaps the new Accent’s most endearing quality is its nimble handling and comfortable ride – two things you don’t always find in a subcompact. The front wheel drive Accent’s tight body and sporty handling, assisted by 195/50 all-season tyres on 16in alloys also added a bit of fun. Although, electronic traction and stability control are standard and available to help prevent wheelspins and spinouts in treacherous conditions, however we couldn’t turn them off. Brakes are discs in front with drums in the rear, all with anti-lock and the servo pressure is good with no brake fade.



Verdict We were definitely impressed with our time behind the wheel and particularly enjoyed the accomplished interior [which has set the bar so high] that we cannot be expected not to demand more premium quality driving performance. Considering the price point it will be sold, the new Accent will face competition from Toyota Yaris, new Chevy Aveo, Ford Fiesta and sibling Kia Rio. On the styling department, the Accent is an outright winner, in performance it will sit with 40

the top end of the crown and in creature comforts and infotainment it is very close to top of the pack â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which is the expensive SYNC system in the Ford. The new Accent is a competent subcompact car thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s big inside and lively too. It has been packaged with an impressive array of convenience and standard safety features and is certainly worthy of being considered alongside more expensive models from other manufacturers.



Bridging the gap

Toyota finally, brings in a sports coupe, the rebadged second generation Scion tC as the Zelus, for the region Author: Chandan B Mallik


cion is Toyota Motor Corporationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s USLatin American sub brand aimed at youth markets, but some of its products have been rebadged as Toyotas and sold on other markets. The Scion xA hatchback was rebadged as Toyota xA in this region not so long ago. Now, for the region which has been void of a Toyota-badged sports coupe for many years, marketing honchos at TMC have looked into its global production pool for an appropriate candidate. The best candidate that it could find as an entry level is the second generation all-new 2011 Scion tC. With premium style and features, the new Scion tC has been rebadged as the Zelus and Toyota hopes it will redefine its segment to meet the desires of the evolving sports coupe buyer. The all-new Zelus adds new styling, enhanced performance, and technologies that add to the driverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experience. It remains a tremendous value with more power, increased fuel efficiency, superior driving dynamics, and more safety features. The car uses a Camry-derived but all-new 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder engine offers the latest in efficient, lightweight technology, including Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), roller rocker arms and a Variable-induction Intake Manifold System that changes the length of the air-intake pipe to supply more torque on demand. The engine produces 176hp and 230 Nm of torque at 4100 rpm.The car is front-wheel-drive and has a 6-speed automatic gearbox with tiptronic function. The car rides a MacPherson strut front-suspension and a double-wishbone rear-suspension that were specially tuned to offer the driver a sporty ride that is both nimble and confident. The car will be offered in two trim levels with prices ranging from RO9,000-9,500.




The recently revealed BMW 1-Series M Coupe aims


to become the spiritual successor to the original M3


he 2011 BMW 1-Series M Coupe has been BMW’s worst-kept secret of the past year, with official “spy” photos and even a video preview of the car preceding the official unveiling in the US last month, barely weeks before the Detroit unveil. Despite an array of endless teasers, the suspense relating to this car has finally come to an end and now it remains to be seen is how the arrival of this car from the BMW stable with an ‘M’ badge is able to justify the badging which is based on stunning performance, race-bred powertrain technology and complementing engineering applications. The new car actually introduces a high performance sports car package into its compact dimensions and by doing that creates a new entry point to M car ownership with a combination of performance and lifestyle accoutrements. The sporty character of the BMW 1 Series M Coupé is expressed by a dramatic exterior design, with widened wheel arches, exclusive 19in Y-spoke M alloy wheels, and dual chrome tailpipes. A discreet spoiler lip generating additional downforce and a rear apron with side openings echoing the look of the front air intakes ensure the look of sporting intent matches the model’s sporting ability. L-shaped rear light clusters with two light banks fed by LED units. Also comes fitted as standard are the twin corona bi-xenon headlamps and LED-fed positioning lights. Door mirrors come from the BMW M3, but tuned for the specific aerodynamic characteristics. Inside the cabin, standard sports seats in Boston leather feature Kyalami orange stitching. Rest of the interior design is exclusively tailored for this car with an ‘M’


Author: Chandan B Mallik

leather steering wheel, Alcantara with Kyalami orange contrast stitching on the door trim, door inserts, handbrake and gear lever gaiter and instrument binnacle cove highlighting the detailing. As expected with the downsizing in displacement, the car has at its heart a high revving, 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine with twin turbocharger, direct injection technology and double VANOS variable valve timing. It develops 340hp [nearly 70hp more than the original BMW M1] and ensures a sprint timing from zero to 100km/h in 4.9sec. Interestingly, the ‘M’ tuned twin-turbocharger technology used consists of two relatively small turbos which, because of their low inertia characteristics, are active even at low engine speeds, ensuring no turbo lag, yet a peak power output which is achieved at 5,900rpm. The great flexibility of the 2,979cc engine means that maximum torque of 450Nm is produced from as little as 1,500rpm. A flat torque curve for swift in gear acceleration sees peak torque maintained up to 4,500 rpm. This figure can be increased by another 50Nm when the car is under full throttle by means of an overboost function. The car is offered with a six-speed manual transmission only and BMW claim that it has been specially designed to work with high-torque engines. This newly developed transmission is operated using a very short-shift M gearshift lever. The car’s chassis has been derived directly from motor racing and over all boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 227hp/tonne and to ensure the car handles like a proper ‘M’, BMW engineers have installed a lightweight aluminium suspension which uses a double pivot front axle and a five-link rear. The

<< the bmw 1 series m coupé will blast to 100km/h from standstill to an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h. in fact, it is expected to be significantly faster around the Nürburgring Nordschleife than the previous generation e46 bmw m3 >>

footprint of the car is bigger than a standard BMW 1 Series Coupé with it being 55mm wider than the BMW 135i Coupé. The width of 1,803 mm is the result of optimisation of the front and rear axle to enhance driving dynamics. Despite being marketed as a ‘pure’ sports car, the 1-Series M boasts an alphabet soup of handling technology. Highlights include DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), Antilock Brakes (ABS), anti-slip control (ASC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), and Cornering Brake Control (CBC). When all else fails, the high performance braking system calls on internally-ventilated cast iron discs - that measure 360mm front /

350mm rear - to bring the action to a halt. Driver will be able to dictate the car’s handling characteristics by the push of a button located on the steering wheel. In standard mode the car offers a more torque-orientated, flexible character to the engine’s performance delivery, while in M Dynamic Mode (MDM), engine speeds rocket instantly, accessing the highest power levels as quickly as possible. Besides performance, BMW’s EfficientDynamics programme on board measures such as brake energy regeneration and needs-based control of auxiliary units ensure that recorded combined fuel consumption is 29.4mpg and

CO2 emissions are 224g/km. As standard, BMW 1 Series M Coupé comes with Variable M differential lock, compound brakes, DSC with MDM and M Servotronic. The Variable M differential lock responds to differences in rotational speeds in the rear wheels, redirecting torque within a fraction of a second for optimum traction and maximum thrust on slippery surfaces and when accelerating out of bends. Revealed ahead of its public debut scheduled for the North American International Auto Show this month, the car goes on sale in May 2011.



r o f e s a C t C a p m a Co

Honda thinks that the new models such as the Brio concept is critical to its business in Asia Author: Chandan B Mallik



onda held the world premiere of a prototype of Honda BRIO, the new small-sized vehicle developed specifically for Asian markets at the 27th Thailand International Motor Expo. The car is a significant development in the line-up as B-segment car wars seems to be imminent in countries such as Thailand and India. The production version of the car will roll out in the last quarter of 2011 for these markets. Honda says that the BRIO prototype has been developed with Honda’s advanced technologies. The BRIO’s compact dimensions -- length 3,610mm, width 1,680mm and height 1,475 mm suggests strongly that the car will perform the role of a commuter car which is easy-to-use even in congested urban areas. Using a cab forward architecture, Honda will ensure enough cabin space is achieved by highly efficient packaging. While compact cars are beginning to get stylish, with the BRIO, Honda thoroughly pursued the creation of an advanced exterior form, which is compact while asserting a strong presence. The front grille has a squashed Honda Civic type grille and the large air dam located in the front bumper. Although, the tail lamp seems it was inspired by the CR-Z, the uniqueness of the Brio’s rear is that it has no tail gate, but instead the entire rear glass opens like the boot door. For the mass-production model which is expected to retain most of the concept’s design language, Honda will develop and offer unique versions for Thailand and India to reflect different customer needs in those markets. Although final specs for the car haven’t been released, The Honda Brio will be powered by a four cylinder normallyaspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine. For both countries, fuel efficiency is a paramount consideration and hence the Thai versions that will hit markers in March 2011, will offer consume around 5 litres for each 100km. These figures will also help the BRIO qualify as an ‘eco-car’ by the Thai government. For the Indian model that is also scheduled to be introduced within 2011, local customer needs for a small car will be reflected and local content will be increased to create a model that achieves a good balance between vehicle performance and price. “Honda would like to expand the joy of mobility to more customers in Thailand, India and other Asian countries through the introduction of a new small vehicle with compact and highly efficient packaging by utilizing our own experiences cultivated by motorcycle business here in Asia,” said Takanobu Ito, President and CEO of Honda Motor. It will be the first time that Honda will enter the volume segment and will pit the Brio against not just the Suzuki Swift, but the Ford Figo, Volkswagen Polo, Nissan Micra, Hyundai i10 and the Toyota Etios hatchback, which will be introduced early next year in India.



Bundle of efficiency

GMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recently introduced 2011 Terrain should rev up the extremely busy compact SUV segment in the region with its class leading features Author: Chandan B Mallik



nce again, the crossover SUV segment is about to be shaken and stirred in the region. And this time it’s not a passenger car maker coming out with a crossover that’s making news but a traditional hardcore truck manufacturer moving into the crossover territory. This makes General Motor’s GMC brand a unique truck maker in the world of passenger cars and crossover SUVs. Although, GMC’s newest model is a crossover in the line-up, it has solid underpinnings from a family sibling. The Terrain is mechanicallybased on the second-generation highly stylish Chevrolet Equinox [a model not sold in this region yet]. GM says the Terrain will compete in an extremely busy segment loaded with stylish and efficient compact SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and midsize sport-utilities such as the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano. As with the trend among crossover SUVs in the market, the Terrain also uses front-wheel drive and unibody construction. In both form and function, the Terrain has been created to appeal to a different buyer than a typical Chevrolet crossover customer and the idea begins with design. For the sheetmetal of the car, it follows the well endowed path of a GMC SUV styling which is usually bold and muscular. Since the car is smaller than its other siblings, its design mostly depends on open and clean surfaces. What stands out, is the bold face and rather unusual and squared-off wheel wells in the overall styling package. While, the car is devoid of sharp character or creaselines in its sheetmetal, its monotony is broken with chrome accents on the door handles and windows when viewed from the side. GMC product planners have also considered several end user scenarios and have included in the

specs a textured layer of anti-chip paint at the bottom of the exterior panels. Compared to say, the Captiva, the Terrain’s wide stance, long wheelbase and high waistline make for a substantial, well-planted impression. Although technically a compact, the Terrain looks much bigger. Three wheel sizes and styles are available, including 17and 18in aluminium wheels, while 19in chrome clad wheels will be offered for customers wanting to bling the car. In terms of kit and accommodation, the Terrain is a five-seater and it is not available with a third-row seat option. For those seeking a third row, GMC would ideally like them to consider the Acadia instead! In contrast to the hardcore image of the brand, the interior design is very trendy and features nice lines and close-fitting panels with soft grain textures. Seats are styled using a secondary contrasting inset with exact red stitching. For the occupants inside the car, the view is commanding, thanks to a high seating position. The step-in height, however, is relatively low, making entry, exit and rear-seat loading a bit easier than with the truck-based SUVs. The cabin has an air of openness as its design is neat and well laid out. Most of the controls and dashboard are placed low, while the floating central console is positioned in such a way that frequently-used controls are within easy reach. The storage bin in the console can easily swallow a laptop computer. Navigation screen large with touch-screen facility and a 10GB hard drive enables storage of a substantial number of music files. The element of practicality hasn’t been overlooked. The rear seat is designed with emphasis on flexible operation. It reclines and slides forward eight inches to facilitate either cargo room or passenger room, as the situation demands. The



<< in the terrain, gmc has produced a fine looking generously sized compact crossover sUv for families. it also comes with state-ofthe-art powertrains, features and safety systems >> optional rear-seat entertainment system has two independently operable screens, capable of providing separate amusements for two back seat occupants. In terms of convenience, the Terrain comes with a programmable lift-gate which can be set for a lower height, clearing possible garage obstructions and making it easier to reach for those of a shorter stature. Meanwhile, the driver can remotely start the vehicle to automatically cool down on a hot afternoon. Meanwhile, the car’s sloping roof rack provides additional cargo capacity. The SUV will be offered with two super efficient powertrains. The entry-level model will get the new 2.4-litre four-cylinder direct injection Ecotec engine with VVT (Variable Valve Timing) and six-speed automatic transmission which produces 182hp and 233Nm of torque. Models equipped with this engine will come


with a “ECO” mode which is activated via a button on the centre console, when the button is pressed it lowers the torque converter lockup speed to 1,125 rpm to maximize fuel economy. While competitive SUVs are slowly discontinuing larger displacement and inefficient V6 engines, GMC claims that its 3.0-litre direct injected V6 engine with VVT and producing 264hp and 301Nm is among the best in the business with its EPA-rating of 9.4 litres per 100km on the highway, while the smaller engine also boasts of segment-leading fuel economy of 7.35 litres per 100km on the highway. The car’s active and passive safety package include electronic stability control and traction control (in GM parlance StabiliTrak), as well as six standard air bags. Dual frontal air bags, head curtain side air bags and pelvic/thorax

seat-mounted side air bags. In addition, the Terrain comes with a rear vision camera as standards, to provide an unobstructed view of objects directly behind the car. To ensure a quite driving experience free from excessive engine and external noise, GM’s first application of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology is used in the smaller engined models to enable better fuel economy by allowing lower engine idle RPMs. ANC uses microphones to detect objectionable harmonics inside the vehicle and sends counteracting sound waves through the audio system’s speakers, ensuring quieter at almost all vehicle speeds. The Terrain is produced at the CAMI assembly facility in Ingersoll, Ontario, which is one of the highest quality and most efficient assembly plants within the GM network.


Mean little BruiSer

After several months of spy shots and speculation, Audi has released details on the 2012 RS 3 Sportback. Author: Chandan B Mallik



udi continues with its blazing performance in most of the segments it is represented and now the focus is towards compact cars. Audi is also toying unrepresented segments with new models such as the A1, but it hasn’t lost its charm when it adds a new model to its dynamic RS series. And this time it is the RS3 Sportback. As the top model in the A3 line-up, the RS3 Sportback which has been developed by quattro GmbH promises to offer dual character of performance and luxury under one roof. As with the current product policy at Audi in terms of differentiating the models that form part of a model series, the RS3 Sportback wears the A3 skin, but gets its own dose of dynamic styling cues. Together with the xenon plus headlights, the front apron, the anthracite single-frame grill with diamond-patterned styling and the air intakes cut a distinctive figure. The side of the car is dominated by the flared front mudguards, prominent sill panels, exterior-mirror casings in matt aluminum finish and a large roof spoiler. A high-gloss black diffusor insert and two elliptical exhaust tailpipes signoff the styling at the rear. RS3 badges adorn the single-frame grill and the rear hatch. Weight management is crucial in constructing such a car and hence it’s not surprising to see that the mudguards are made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) and overall, the car weighs in at only 1,575kg. As expected, the chassis is designed to be stiffer in view of the extreme driver demands and the four-link

rear suspension comes with widened tracks. Sub frames have been used for the suspension mounts for isolation and in light with the lightweight strategy, key components in the suspension are made out of aluminium. Meanwhile, coil springs and redesigned shock absorbers provide the vertical support. The car has been lowered by 0.98 inch [when compared with the regular A3] for optimized aerodynamic efficiency. The car runs on large 19in aluminium wheels shod with 235/35 tyres. With a direct gear ratio of 16.2:1 and electromechanical drive, the rack-and-pinion steering should be highly efficient. Shoehorned in the compact engine bay is a forced fed high revving five-cylinder TFSI 2.5-litre engine that produces a whopping 340hp and 450Nm of torque. Power is transmitted to the road via a seven-speed S tronic and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. With this combination, the car is able to rocket from a dead stop to 100km/h in 4.6secs – a performance figure which Audi claims is unrivalled by the competition. Top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h. Thanks to quattro, the propulsive power can be distributed to each axle as needed. Whenever slip occurs at one of the axles, an electric pump intervenes at lightning speed to increase the oil pressure. The pump presses the clutch plates together in a continuous fashion, thereby permitting the torque to be redirected accordingly. Thanks to a powerful accumulator, this process takes just a few milliseconds.

The mood inside the car complements the exterior. The sports seats are upholstered in Fine Nappa leather with contrast stitching while inlays are offered in either Piano finish black or the new Aluminium Race look. The leather multifunction sports steering wheel is flat-bottomed and selector lever and instruments are specially designed for this RS. The driver information system can display the boost pressure and oil temperature as well as a lap timer. Drivers seeking pure driving pleasure have the option of bypassing electronics. In fact, the electronic stabilization program (ESP) features a Sport mode and can be switched off entirely. One other character of this car is that spirited drivers will not fail to notice is linear acceleration with no perceptible interruption of pulling power. This is because the S tronic gearbox transmits power from the engine via three shafts -- one drive shaft and two output shafts. Like all dual-clutch transmissions, it comprises two transmission structures. The shifting process is extremely smooth, taking place in hundredths of a second as the clutches switch. Seventh gear is very tall - a measure that reduces fuel consumption. In fact, the car uses 9.1 litres of fuel per 100 km. Super ef efficient stopping power for this car is guaranteed – the internally ventilated disks measure 14.57in in diameter at the front and 12.20in at the rear. Deliveries of the Audi RS3 Sportback will begin in early 2011 and the base price in Germany will begin at Euro 49,900.

<< the new top-of-the-line model in the a3 series is already the fourth audi model to be built in hungary alongside the tt coupé, the tt roadster and the a3 cabriolet >>




Wonderfully Indulgent

automan checks out the second generation all-new 2011 bentley continental gt during its first global media debut in oman | Author :Chandan B Mallik

Editorial NomiNEE bENtlEy coNtiNENtal gt pErformaNcE car





t a time when marketing definitions are being re-written and customer loyalty extremely valued in the motoring industry, the task of replacing a highly successful old model can be daunting. In some cases, a succeeding model has no connection with its predecessor, but when confronted with the task of creating a replacement for the eight year old Continental GT, Bentley think-tanks approached people who knew the outgoing car best – the owners. Extensive research with focus groups including current and past Continental GT buyers suggested that although the present package [seemed quite adequate, but there was a demand


for technology, performance upgrades and improved features. Armed with this information, Bentley product engineers went on with the task of creating the second generation Continental GT under the watchful eyes of an engineering and design team led by Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, member of the board for engineering and Dirk van Braeckel, director of design, respectively. At first glance, one might be mistaken in thinking than the incoming CGT would begin life on a clean sheet. Since the outgoing car was a design statement in itself and liked by its owners and media, there’s no denying the appeal of an opulently appointed super coupe

in a now familiar profile that can comfortably carry four people can appear so refreshing and timeless in appeal. However, the car demands a meticulous scrutiny. It’s hallmark silhouette including the strong roofline and the muscular haunches have been untouched, but its bodylines now boast a refined sculptured look and the character lines on the bonnet and mudguards are even crisper and more defined. Compared to the outgoing car, despite a carryover chassis, dimensions have changed. The car looks much more planted, ground hugging, thanks to the wider by 41mm up front and 48mm at rear tracks and large 20in wheels

[21in optionakl] that sit tightly in the wheel wells. The body also gets some aerodynamic tweaking and its coefficient of drag has been reduced to 0.33Cd and the lift at the front and rear axles has also been reduced to create greater stability at higher speeds. Meanwhile, the classic Bentley matrix radiator grille is more upright, while the new headlamp design continues in traditional four-lamp format but includes jewel-like detailing including eyecatching, LED daylight-running lamps. At the rear, Bentley signature ‘floating’ LED lamps extend around the corners of the mudguards and the trunks lid gets ‘double horse-shoe’ design motif which I think is reminiscent of the new Mulsanne. The signoff at the rear is the flared elliptical exhaust tailpipes. Inside the cabin, the ambience is familiar but in terms of features and refinements is even more sumptuous than before. The redesigned seats and the instrument panel are quite prominent in the package and there’s a good reason for this as well. First, the striking Cobra’ design seats are supremely comfortable and the built-in seatbelt anchors have been removed from the back of the seat and repositioned on the B-pillar. Besides offering extra legroom for rear occupants, the rearrangement has helped shave 35kg [out of total 65kg] of mass. Bentley says that the seats can be also be specified with frontseat ventilation as well as a state-of-the-art

massage system with 10 individual massage cells. Secondly, there’s a wonderful mix of craftsmanship and technology all around. The basic architecture of the central console returns, as do the billeted aluminium “Organ Stop” climate control vents. Meanwhile, supple leather finds its way into virtually every square inch of the cabin along with the latest in infotainment and MMI. The new touchscreen infotainment system features state-of-the-art navigation, Google Maps and entertainment modes. Other simple yet practical features not to be missed include a powered boot as standard, Electronic Park Brake with Move Off Assist and newly designed, leather-lined door stowage bins with an integrated bottle holder. Perhaps the most stylish new storage device we think is the exquisitely designed, folding, removable case. While, the car’s chassis and suspension has been carried over along with the standard all-wheel drive, but the biggest news is the way the torque split has been reworked and changed. In the older car it was 50:50, now it is split 40:60 front: rear, and the system allows for 85 per cent or more of torque to be dedicated to either axle. For the Continental GT, it seems that the powertrain team responsible for the revised set-up, were seeking to achieve high levels of torque at low revs. Although, the outgoing

car wasn’t lacking for it, Eichhorn’s team softly massaged the 6.0-litre bi-turbo W12 for additional 14bhp and 50Nm of torque where most of the output [567bhp and 700Nm] is available all the way from 1,750 to 5,200rpm. With its power output raised, the result is a six per cent improvement in the new GT’s power-to weight-ratio, making it capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in 4.6sec with a top speed of 318km/h. Although, a ZF six-speed gearbox has been mated to this revised and upgraded engine, the new Quickshift facility enables double downshifts and software revisions have further sharpened the shift times by 50 per cent. Our niggle at this point was the absence of an eight-speed gearbox, but Dr Eichhorn (see accompanying interview) gave us an indication that it would be available with the smaller displacement V8, when it arrives in late 2011. Interestingly, the W12 also has some green credentials too. Thanks to advanced FlexFuel technology, the CGT can also run on both standard unleaded petrol and sustainable bioethanol (E85) or any mix of the two.



Driving impressions At 2,320kg, the new CGT should be a chunky lump of car, but on the move you hardly feel the weight. The W12 engine tugs this massive ride along with buttery, long-winded force, and gearshifts are virtually imperceptible. A deep exhaust note is always present, but never obtrusive. Throttle release creates some rather pleasing bass notes from the rear, and switching to ‘Sport’ mode amplifies the exhaust—these are some delicious sounds. The drive from Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa to the mountain roads south of Muscat looping Nizwa was perhaps one the best places on earth Bentley could have chosen for the test drive. The W12 forced fed engine is certainly grand and commands respect from even the most critical driver. To access the endless stream of lag-free torque, all you have to do is tap down the right foot, grab the beautifully handstitched multifunction steering wheel and just move on. Although, there are steering column-mounted shift paddles, but they in our view are the only sore points as they are too far away for easy use and the fixed placement has also altered the position of the indicator column. The drive through the stunning canyons and undulating strips of freshly laid tarmac in the Sharqiya Desert allowed us to play with the revised ZF gearbox. It’s still very much like that of the outgoing Continental GT [Super Sports in particular], but is capable of doubledownshifting from, say, sixth gear directly to fourth. We found the shifts at 200milliseconds



to be reasonably crisp and direct, but it was possible, especially at higher revs, to get the transmission to hesitate for a split-second. The best part of the drive was experiencing the solid chassis and suspension responses. Although, the designs have been carried over along with the standard all-wheel drive, the revised torque split arrangement has altered some of the car’s handling character. We felt at times that the new car is perhaps a little easier to oversteer than before, also, although easily corrected, as we learned while lapping some empty roundabouts. Also satisfying was the car’s ability to change direction. The light steering wheel turns with very little effort and though the on-centre feel is surprisingly responsive the car effortlessly took on the tightand winding roads. We did have opportunities to pushing the car closer to its limits, and this didn’t seem to bother the car at all. Of course, we are aware somewhere under the sheet metal there’s a bit electronic trickery at play – proof of the pudding is that the ESP in this car works relatively seamlessly. Switch into ‘Dynamic’ mode, and you might start to feel a bit more mortal as you drive into a fast corner. It’s great to have the option of selecting a less intrusive stability control setting, although I would hardly expect a gentleman Bentley driver to pursuit a weekend autocross role with this car. But frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised and got to admit, I didn’t switch off ESP completely as a safety precaution. Overall, as promised, the new Bentley Continental GT’s chassis is able to deliver both

optimum ride and handling balance in one go. The introduction of the wide front and rear track helps in the agility and handling departments, while the solid aluminium cast-forged, high-stiffness front suspension uprights and aluminium gravity die castings at the rear work in conjunction with a redesigned front anti-roll bar and retuned spring and shock absorber settings. The result, we did feel was the improved road response and stability at all speeds. Meanwhile, the car’s electronics responsible for handling also seem to work in tandem with the demands. Most evident was the Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system which constantly monitors the car’s attitude and poise. By adjusting the suspension settings hundreds of times a second it can provide a remarkably supple ride at low speeds and increased control as speeds climb. It also lowers the car in ‘V-Max’ mode for enhanced stability at the recommended top speed. During our two-day engagement with the car, factoring in the usual desert perils, the car’s interior turned out to be a big hit, especially the massively improved sat-nav system that uses a crystal-clear eight-inch screen. Unlike the Audi-derived system with the all-in-one controller used in the new Mulsanne, the CGT’s infotainment architecture is VW-based, and as such, employs touchscreen controls for greater ease-of-use. Although as a package, it’s a major improvement, but we still wish Bentley had raided its corporate parts bin and used the new A8’s brilliant new MMI system, touch pad et all.

what’s in, w Exterior design The overall shape of the incoming car has changed little. While retaining the familiar profile, the edges are now sharper and the front grille thrusts forward more assertively. The wheels are also bigger now.

what’s out Interiors The backs of the front seats are curvier and a little skinnier. The no longer carry the seatbelt mechanisms of the outgoing car which in turn makes the rear a bit more spacious. turbocharged powertrain bumps up output. With the new Quickshift six-speed transmission [which now enables double downshifts]the car offers an output of 567bhp and 700Nm of torque respectively.

Engineering This car has shed 65kg and there is a new version of the four-wheel drive system which now sends 60 per cent of the engine’s efforts to the rear wheels and 40 per cent to the front, instead of equal amounts to all four. The revised 6.0-litre, 12-cylinder, twinturbocharged powertrain bumps up output. With the new Quickshift six-speed transmission [which now enables double downshifts]the car offers an output of 567bhp and 700Nm of torque respectively.



STORY} Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of the Board for Engineering at Bentley Motors doesn’t need any new introduction. As engineering director Dr. Eichhorn has overseen many significant engineering developments in engines in terms of performance and efficiency. Dr. Eichhorn is particularly proud of the potential of the new generation V8 engines and this includes the introduction of the engine in its most potent form in the Bentley Brooklands coupe. Since joining Bentley Motors in 2003, Dr. Eichhorn has also overseen the introduction of the 6-litre W12 engine in the Continental range two years ago. Dr Eichhorn was in Oman during the global premiere and first drive event in December and we caught up with him to find out more about the engineering direction and the new arrival. Excerpts:


Q: How does one redefine a classic design without tampering with timeless values? A: Our existing Continental customers told us, ‘change as little as possible but make it new.’ They liked the silhouette: the strong roofline and the muscular haunches, so we decided to emphasize those in the new styling. Q: The time span of eight years is a considered quite long in for creating a successor. Was it easy or tough in deciding which way to go with the second generation CGT? A: Most car lines, through additional equipment and other changes, tend to gain a bit of weight each year during their life cycle. But we have been focusing on weight reduction and are quite happy that we were able to make the new GT 65 kg lighter than the outgoing car. Q: We note that the new car seems to sport sharper styling, particularly character creaselines on the front mudguards. What process helped make this possible in aluminium? A: After successfully using the process of ‘superforming’ aluminium in the Mulsanne for the desired shapes, we have been able to continue its application in the Continental GT. We used this technology to create the front mudguards and the trunk lid. This process heats the aluminium panels to nearly 500° Celsius before shaping them by air pressure. And by using a single sheet of aluminium, no seams or welding are required for this component. Q: There’s a bit of disappointment as regards to the transmission in this car. Why was it decided to continue with the 6-speed old gearbox instead of a new 8-speed. After all, you have 8-speed transmissions in your group’s cars with W12 engines? A: Yes, you are right. We do have 8-speed transmissions available in the group. However, the torque character in the Bentley is unique and at present we do not have any 8-speed transmission that could complement the CGT’s set-up. Q: Is the 6.0-litre W12, the only engine to be offered in the model series? A: No. We are developing with Audi, an all-new, twinturbo, 4.0-litre V8. The engine will arrive in late 2011. Q: Will it be lighter and significantly change the axle weight ratios? A: Our W12 is already one of the lightest and most compact twelve-cylinder engines in the world and the 4.0-litre sV8, which, will not weigh that much less.


ENGINE Type: 6-litre twin-turbocharged W12 Max Power: 567bhp / 423kW / 575PS @ 6000 rpm

The dual nature of the car – luxury handcrafted opulence with hassle-free ondemand performance is what impressed us most and it once again reinforces Bentley’s history where iconic grand tourers have forged the marque’s reputation. In the 1950s the beautiful R-Type Continental set new standards of performance and style. In 2003, Bentley Continental GT revolutionised the luxury coupe market, combining supercar performance and dynamism with remarkable everyday practicality and in 2011, the second generation takes it a few notches higher.

Max Torque: 700Nm / 516lb/ft @ 1700 rpm TRANSMISSION ZF 6-speed automatic with quickshift and steering wheelmounted paddleshift Driveline: Continuous all-wheel drive (40:60 rear bias) Ratios: 1st - 4.17 2nd - 2.34 3rd - 1.52 4th - 1.14 5th - 0.87 6th - 0.69 Final drive: 3.526 BODY CONSTRUCTION Steel monocoque BRAKES Front: 405mm ventilated discs (optional 420mm Carbon Silicon Carbide, cross drilled) Rear: 335mm ventilated discs (optional 356mm, Carbon Silicon Carbide, cross drilled) WHEELS AND TYRES 9.5J x 20” (optional 9.5J x 21”) 275/40ZR 20 (optional 275/35 ZR21 linked to option wheels) STEERING Type: rack & pinion, power assisted, speed-sensitive ZF servotronic Turns lock to lock: 2.6 turns Turning circle: 11.3m SUSPENSION Front: Four link double wishbones, computer controlled self-levelling air suspension, with anti roll-bar. Rear: Trapezoidal multi-link, computer-controlled selflevelling air suspension, with anti roll-bar. Damping: Continuous Damping Control, tuned for dynamic performance. DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 2746 mm / 108.1 in Overall Length: 4806 mm / 189.2 in Width (across body): 1944 mm / 76.5 in Width (including mirrors): 2227 mm / 87.7 in Overall Height: 1404 mm / 55.3 in Fuel Tank: 90 litres / 20 gallons / 24 US gallons Boot Volume: 358 litres / 12.6 cu ft Kerb Weight (EU): 2320 kg / 5115 lb Gross Vehicle Weight: 2750 kg / 6063 lb PERFORMANCE Top Speed: 318 km/h (198 mph) 0-100 km/h: 4.6 s 0-160 km/h: 10.2 s 0-60 mph: 4.4 s 0-100 mph: 10.2 s 50-80 km/h (30-50 mph): 1.7 s 80-120 km/h (50-75 mph): 2.9 s FUEL CONSUMPTION (EU Cycle) Urban: 25.4 l/100km (11.1 mpg) Extra Urban: 11.4 l/100km (24.9 mpg) Combined: 16.5 l/100km (17.1 mpg) CO2 emissions: 384 g/km FUEL CONSUMPTION (EPA Cycle) City Driving: 12.0 mpg (US) Highway Driving: 19.0 mpg (US) Combined : 14.0 mpg (US)




Headline act can an ‘m’ badged sedan make any difference in the infiniti line-up considering the fact that ‘Q’ badging has been discontinued by the automaker? automan samples the allnew 2011 m37s for a few days in oman to find out | Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photographs: Shakil Al Baloushi



ll-new a e h t ted, a c syi a t e s i d h n p a o d s able n t a r o a h f s i h m l t o i c w st y a n s i seda 37s y m r i u t x i u n l i inf gies ium o l m o e n r h p c e to-drive w advanced t ne host of

Most of us are aware that Nissan created its luxury division, Infiniti, to rival Toyota’s luxury division, Lexus besides the Germans. Interestingly, both Japanese premium brands were launched in the US in 1989. While Lexus was pretty consistent in its approach, Infiniti faltered on the way and naturally was left behind. But in the past decade, Infiniti has staged a remarkable comeback worth noting with an array of technology and performance led product line. But, outright commercial success has eluded the marque and Infiniti faced bitter experience with the innovatively styled and brilliantly engineered third generation Q45 which was introduced in 2002 and produced until the 2006. This car was equipped with


a 340hp, 4.5-litre V8 engine and had an advanced five-speed automatic transmission. It also offered many firsts in the luxury sedan market, but it was never able to compete with the sales numbers of other Asian automobile manufacturers. Infiniti brand recognition and sales were kick-started in 2003 with the introduction of the entry-level G35 model, and the Q45 was discontinued in 2006. In the interim period, Infiniti has decided to re-invent itself and had to decide whether to continue or drop the ‘Q’ badging. As part of the new product drive, it dropped the ‘Q’ and instead invigorated the ‘M’ extensively. Now, the company will offer ‘M’ in two all-new flavours -- M37 and M56. The portfolio has further been split into two distinct categories

in one package where customers can opt for either a luxury or a performance package. As always, the performance variant gets an extra ‘S’ in its badging which is more than just a visual differentiation between the siblings. Infiniti says that the design of the new M is inspired by ‘organic elements’ as it also debuts a new design language. We think it’s fresh to some extent and it also combines some of the existing design cues which made the Infiniti G models quite a success. The new styling has a pronounced “flowing side styling” which was first seen on the Essence concept car. The key difference between the ‘G’ and ‘M’ sedan is that the ‘M’ is dimensionally larger -- it’s more than 1.5in wider, both tracks are also wider and its length has grown by over half

an inch. The suspension is about a quarterinch lower, which explains it squat stance. The car’s 114.2in wheelbase is unchanged and the M has shed some weight [around three kilos during its redesign]. Overall, the car has a nice stance and with right proportions, although it wouldn’t be described as an outright style statement. The interior of the car is definitely a

busy and nice place to spend a lot of time. The luxury M is more tailored to pamper occupants and it includes reclining seats at the rear. Fitted with every-which way-adjustable sports seats, the car’s ‘I-mean-business’ driving position earns full marks, as does the good looking steering wheel that does so much to enhance that feeling of well-being. Meanwhile, the ‘S’

is tailored to perform and hence shuns some of the extra luxury components. Common features include well crafted ambience with lots of smooth leather, piano finish wood and some brushed metallic accents. The central console of this car is exceptionally busy and probably has more functional switches than any modern car. Admittedly, new cars



are a bundle of complex systems, however, there’s an element of convenience built in for drivers who are overwhelmed with complex operations – be it mobile phones or in-car navigation settings. There is a centralized single control knob to manipulate several on-screen functions and one can bypass this complexity and operate common climate and entertainment functions using more traditional and intuitive dash-mounted buttons. There is nothing at all intimidating sitting inside this car. Interestingly, Infiniti used the new M as a launch pad for several new safety and lifestyle technologies. There’s an active Blind Spot Intervention warning system which in addition to alerting a driver to a vehicle in its blind-spot range will also selectively activate brake intervention to help safely direct the M back into its lane of travel at slower speeds. And then there’s this “Forest Air” system which supposedly reduces unpleasant odours entering the cabin and provides a breezelike airflow. It uses an array of strategically placed sensors which automatically open and close air intake ports to reduce the intrusion of dust, other vehicle exhaust or unpleasant odours into the cabin. It uses filters and an air purifier to help remove allergens, mould and viruses in the air and it includes humidity control feature. However, the real character of the car is under the chiseled bonnet where sits Nissan’s ubiquitous normally-aspirated VQ37 Series 3.7-litre V6. It’s also the same free-revving powerplant that’s been used in the G37 and 370Z and for M duties it has been tweaked to offer 330hp at 7,000rpm and 270lb-ft of 66

torque at 5,200rpm, an improvement of 27hp and 8 ft-lb over the 3.5-litre V6 used in the M35. The increased power and torque comes from the use of continuously variable valve timing technology on both the intake and the exhaust valve systems. New variable valve event and lift (VVEL) technology has also been applied to the intake valves on the V6. In contrast to the Q45, there are two extra cogs in the advanced automatic transmission that features rev-matched downshifts. The test car was a loaded edition, also known Sport Package that offers many extras such as GT-R inspired column-mounted, leatherbound aluminium shift paddles, bigger brakes and calipers front and rear, 4-Wheel Active Steering, upgraded springs and shocks, more highly bolstered seats and 245/40 tyres on 20in alloys. Other available safety features include Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Front PreCrash Seat Belts and Active Tracing Control, which adjusts engine torque and the control of braking at each of the four wheels helps enhance cornering performance.

Driving impressions

Besides a cushy seating and command seating position, one quickly settles into the car and begins to enjoy the cacophony of this throaty free-revving engine. Although, exhaust sound levels are more dictated by legislation these days, one doesn’t miss it with windows down. Although, the new car is marginally lighter than the outgoing M35, it is still quite a solid chunk of a car. That said, the extra horses available are put to good use to help motivate the big sedan quickly and satisfyingly

fast. It’s a driver’s car that virtually invites a driver to get on the pedal to get access to the power. Considering that most vehicles in the Nissan-Renault-Infiniti portfolio are switching to CVT, the performance of the seven-speed shifter in the car is quite satisfactory. Actually, a car like this deserves a dual-clutch system, but the swift paddle shifters are able to keep your mind off any such visualization. Much of the credit has to go to the M’s seven-speed automatic transmission, which really is able to extract the most from the V6. Although, its full-throttle upshifts could be a bit smoother, but they come right on at 7,500rpm redline, just as they should and it also matches revs on the downshifts like the best dual-clutch transmissions in the business. Pounding on the M’s paddle shifters is good fun, but we would advise against using them if fuel mileage is a major consideration. While the powertrain performance will appeal enthusiastic drivers, the biggest improvement in handling and probably the biggest USP is the 4-Wheel Active Steering, or 4WAS. Although, the concept of four wheel active steering isn’t entirely new and has been used by Honda and Mazda in late ‘80s with mixed results. Infiniti’s 4WAS only moves the rear wheels in phase with the front wheels by a maximum of one degree. Admittedly, that doesn’t sound like much and at low speeds it difficult to assert its activity. But when the car begins to move fast then is the time to be impressed as 4WAS helps eliminate both under- and oversteer. For us, this means the car feels planted, especially in a situation when you dive in fast corners or make quick exits. The car’s handling supplemented by

its fast paced acceleration becomes nimble, athletic and confident. However, we felt the system can perform a bit better with some further weight reduction as at times, one can occasionally feel the weight of the car on the steering. During the period we had the car we could detect an element of split personality in the car, evident depending on where and how the car is driven. The steering goes from asleep to alert, for fluent, pinpoint accuracy and a planted-to-the-road feel and when pushing the car on smooth or twisting mountain roads, there’s just the right amount of steering feedback with quick response and the levels of performance expected. However, the car doesn’t seem as happy in the city, especially where there are potholes, rippled concrete and highway expansion joints. In the latter, the ride becomes harsh and although we don’t blame the suspension tuning which is firm and compliant, we felt a bit od the performance of the four-wheel active-steer system was getting compromised. However, one of the pleasant things about this car was the being able to select driving modes using the Infiniti Drive feature. It is a clever feature and the change from Normal to Sport is subtle yet effective. In the Eco mode the accelerator pedal push-back felt a little

strange at first for a performance car in this region, but you can bypass it at will.


Infiniti has worked quite hard and added considerable refinement to its new flagship sedan range sporting M badges. By far, these sedans are easily the most comfortable and luxurious cars Infiniti has ever produced. However, when it comes to combining street credible performance with premium luxury, it’s

not an easy job for even the most accomplished automaker. But Infiniti has managed to bridge the gap by very careful planning. While, there’s no doubt that the outgoing M was more raw and unpolished, the new M now finally feels like a luxury sedan without losing its performance punch. By far, among the best engineered car with finely tuned blend of sportiness and luxury in these new M sedans could steal quite a bit of business from Infiniti’s German and domestic rivals.

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Editorial NomiNEE ford mustaNg gt sports car




Sport mode allows you to push the car more and burn rubber while still retaining control AdvanceTrac® Electronic Stability Control


ver since the first Mustang went into production over four and a half decades ago, Ford has ensured that each generation of the model has remained in the news and got better. And it’s no secret that for almost a quarter of a century the famous ‘pony’ car has mostly been talked about for its engine. While the current model is in its fifth generation, competition in the segment has heated up from cross town rivals. And this has put Ford in the spotlight once again as it has formulated an interesting package to help the Mustang win back its fans and followers. The biggest news for aficionados of this car is for 2011 is the return of a 5.0-litre V8 in the GT which replaces the 315bhp 4.6-litre V8. Ford has been toying with the idea of a new performance engine for several years and has finally designed and delivered a befitting V8 package that offers 97extra horses and significantly improved fuel efficiency and emissions. Insiders say that the 5.0-litre V8 Coyote Indy racing engine served as the key inspiration for the new V8, and not surprisingly one finds applications such as a deeper oil pan which helps maintain oil pressure in corners or the windage tray [almost all of Fords new generation engines has a tray of some type that helps reduce power losses associated with excess oil dragging on the crankshaft]. The lightweight aluminium block

for the engine is quite compact and weight savings of more than 20 per cent versus the previous 5.0-litre offering have been achieved by lowering mass in areas such as the aluminium block and heads, using composite intake manifold and cam covers and hollow camshafts. Ford is particularly quite proud with the fact that it has been able to achieve the desired performance levels without using direct injection or turbocharging [Fordâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s current Ecoboost formula], but has used most of the top end technology associated with high



ang t s u m time g n o l del. a o f m o e 1 y 1 20 ced e e n h e i t r e n real p o e x h e s t e e t t h a ke t upd n, bu i a t k e l s l h i t e w h uard e t t i g e r d s e u d o m t n do the re u aficiona he changes a n the sides of o ft most o is a 5.0 badge ay giveaw dels o m t g of


Key rivals

The all-new Dodge Challenger R/T’s 5.7-litre HEMI engine with five-speed automatic transmission produces 372hp and its FuelSaver technology seamlessly transitions to fuel saving economy four-cylinder mode when less power is needed. The performance-oriented Chevrolet Camaro SS also offers a 6.2-litre LS3 V8 with 426hp and Active Fuel Management that helps improve fuel economy during certain light-load driving conditions. Meanwhile, the more expensive Dodge Challenger SRT8 offers comparable horsepower to the Chevrolet Camaro SS with the manual transmission – 425hp vs 426hp. performance engines such as DOHC with 32 valves, twin independent variable valve timing (Ti-VCT) [similar to BMW’s BIVANOS system] and some race derived technology as well. Also, thanks in part to also the new transmissions, the incoming new six-speed automatic transmission on the GT has tall ratios and helps deliver up to an estimated 25 mpg highway and 17mpg in the city. This is up from 23 mpg highway and 17mpg city for the 2010 model which had 5-speed transmission. Six-speed manual transmission Ford Mustang GT models for 2011 are projected to deliver 24 mpg highway and 16 city, matching the 2010 model but delivering significantly more horsepower. Besides the new shoehorned engine and transmission which really is the big story more than the cosmetics, the Blue Oval guys have also incorporated a number of other changes to subtly differentiate the refreshed car. However, it does take a well-trained eye to spot the key visual differences between the 2010 and 2011 models. But there are differences – the front and rear ends are slightly tweaked and edges sharpened. There are some aerodynamic tweaks such as the new lower spoiler and air dam up front and the rear wheels now have tyre spats. All of the exterior changes plus a

modified under chassis protectors and rear trunk seal help improve aerodynamics by four per cent. The interior of the car isn’t really that hot and at the same time not bland or boring. The build and quality of materials used appear much better. The test car had black leather with contrast stripes and stitching. Ford’s now standard SYNC system reminds you that it can also act as your regular commute car. Cabin space isn’t premium but there’s adequate space for taller drivers especially up front. The steering wheel tilts but doesn’t offer rake adjustments, but the good news is that even shorter drivers like me can play with the seat positioning to be comfortably settled in. Front seats are sporty and body hugging and offer pretty good lumber support. However, lateral support is limited and doesn’t help the occupant much during spirited driving. As a 2+2, rear seats will accommodate two, but there will be a feel of being claustrophobic is travel distances are too long. The shaker audio system sounds great and the availability of a rear view camera is extremely useful, especially in cars where rear visibility is limited due to a high waistline. Thoughtfully, Ford has integrated a blindspot mirror on the door mirrors.

For the driver, there’s a new speed sensitive electric power assisted steering which replaces the old car’s hydraulic system. The advantage of the new system is that it has been specifically tuned to offer quicker oncentre steering response, increased effort at highway speeds and reduced effort required in low-speed parking manoeuvres. And one will not fail to notice that the top speed of the speedometer has increased to 250km/h and the tachometer redline has advanced from 6,500 to 7,000rpm. In the chassis and suspension departments, there are some changes that have been done to match the new performance standards and involved stiffening the body. A tower-totower front strut brace is now standard, and the V-brace has been stiffened by adding gussets. The secondary crossmember also has been stiffened while a front Z-brace has been added, connecting primary and secondary crossmembers. A-pillar stiffening foam also has been added to increase rigidity. With these efforts lateral stiffness has improved by 12 per cent versus the 2010 model.

Driving impressions

The big question is: can extra 97 horses, an extra cog and some suspension tweaks


COVER STORY make the all the difference the Mustang GT is looking for? This is because when you drive a pony car irrespective of brand, there’s no denying that subconsciously there will be comparisons at this level. However, if you live in the Middle East you wouldn’t be too worried about fuel consumption in this class but more keen to extract more out of the machine. And then you also have to contend that there’s an all-new Dodge Challenger R/T with a 372hp 5.7-litre HEMI engine, five-speed automatic transmission, variable cylinder management and fuel saving technology and the 426hp 6.2-litre LS3 V8 of the performance-oriented Chevrolet Camaro SS with similar fuel saving technology. Meanwhile, the more expensive Dodge Challenger SRT8 which offers comparable horsepower to the Chevrolet Camaro SS with the manual transmission [425hp vs 426hp]. The formidable opposition, on paper at least seems have the upper hand with horsepower and fuel efficiency. To be fair, I frankly don’t care which car is quickest in the quartermile sprint or the most fuel miser, but I do care about how the new powertrain should behave when driven as aggressively or as a regular commute on roads. With Mustang’s power output now closely comparable to Camaro’s across the board [412hp vs 426hp], its power-to-weight ratio [Mustang’s curb weight is 1,638kg, Camaro stands at 1,754kg and power-toweight ratio for these two are 8.7 and 9.1 respectively]. This V8 is a major evolutionary step for Ford which on a gloriously flat curve peaks at 4,250rpm, so it’s easy to knock out a 0-100km/ h sprint in 4.7secs and besides that one can now push the engine to rev at 7,000rpm [its new redline], and in return there’s pure joy -- the traditional American V8 rumble and roar are still there but a bit subdued [due to the new noise regulations in force and very efficient insulation]. What is surprising though is the fact that Ford stopped short of introducing direct injection in the package, but its output is potent nevertheless and the performance extracted even without it is worth every cent invested. The new gearbox is pretty well matched with timely and virtually seamless up or downshifts. Meanwhile, the little switch on the side of shifter lever is not for overdrive, but it serves as the switch for hill descent control! This is when you can spend hours driving the GT as a very pedestrian car and not feel tired or overwhelmed – which means it is pretty good for day-to-day commute jobs. It also won’t cost you a fortune on petrol bills as engineers have really put together a superb formula. Ford engineers designed a variable intake and specific valve train so that powerband could be as broad as possible. As a result, compared to a say a Camaro, the Mustang’s key rival, the availability of usable 74

power starts much lower and runs higher and the bonus is that there’s at neat reserve of torque available approximately representing an equivalent 1,000rpm between the torque peak and the power peak. While in real time, the dyno results will confirm this, but there’s no disputing that this V8 feels punchier at low rpm. In handling, the GT comes fitted with the 255/40ZR rated Pirelli P Zero tyres on 19in alloys which offer good grip most of the time. While one may argue the logic of having a live axle [lower costs cited as the key reason] versus independent multilink suspension, the body isn’t put off course by pitching pavement or camber changes. Despite a decent powertrain package and tweaks to the suspension, the Mustang GT is a tad slow in the handling department when compared to the Camaro. Despite what many critics would think about this option, end of day Ford has made it work, the bonus being it has saved some unsprung mass and the customer some

money. Although Ford ditched the idea of independent rear suspension, the car is pretty good in straight line and stable on smooth road surfaces, but trying the car on uneven surfaces, the rear end can overpower the front end and one has to be careful with that. The Advanced Trac stability control system in the 2011 Mustang is excellent, with four modes: full-on, traction control off, sport mode and full-off, providing the perfect balance between performance and safety. With the system in sport mode were able to slide the vehicle and spin the tyres for some fun. But sensibly, it has been programmed to intervene if one gets a little too out of shape. With the system totally off, hooligan mode is enabled and the Mustang turns into a perfect drift machine! The electric steering is a delight to play with. It will allow the GT happy to turn into a corner and we noted that while flirting around with the apex, one doesn’t find making loads of corrections. Put another way, the suspension

is able to handle whatever you throw at it. The shock absorber tuning and revised spring rates provide a smooth highway ride while a new rear lower control arm and stiffened stabilizer bar bushings improve stiffness and handling for better cornering response. Our test car came with the standard brakes package which we think are sufficient for our driving needs. However, there’s a Brembo Package available for those demanding more.


Ford redesigned the Mustang for 2010, the 2011 editions ring in the year with new engines, new transmissions and improvements to ride, handling and noise. The 2011 Mustang represents a significant improvement over the over the previous 2004-2009 models. In terms of pricing and positioning, the Mustang GT should be able to regain lost ground confidently as it moves forward into its next innings.

st top of e b e h t ’t n is e ” 5.0-litr e t o y o c “ w e, by far e d n a m r e v if the e s a h company e h t e in g n e mustang e n k c o t s the li t s e b nably the io t s e u q n u is this across we have come



Moving up ass a surprise for 2011, kia upgrades a the cerato with a new transmission and extra cogs. automan investigates whether it is worth the effort or price increment | Author: Chandan B Mallik | Photography: Shakil Al Baloushi



sually one doesn’t expect to hear a lot about progress and development in cars built on a budget during its lifecycle. But Kia Motors thinks otherwise. Kia introduced the all-new 2010 Kia Forte (pronounced for-tay) or Cerato in markets as a global compact sedan at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show and it is one of the early examples of Kia’s exciting new design direction under the tutelage of Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors’ chief design officer. For the region the Cerato is available in two trim levels and common to both is its normallyaspirated 1,591cc in-line four-cylinder engine. As part of the efficiency drive, the big news is that the outdated four-speed transmission has been replaced by Kia’s all-new Gamma six-speed transmission. Meanwhile, there’s been no change to the engine output or torque available to the front wheels which is 122hp at 6,300 rpm with max torque of 156Nm coming at 4,200 rpm. The ’11 cars with new transmission can be identified by it badging at the rear. While a refresh or upgrade usually involves some style tweaks, the Cerato which looks the part with its bold looks set apart by crisp and sharp bodylines, modern sweptback headlamps and a sleek profile over all perhaps didn’t need one at all. But as Kia’s second entry level model up in the line-up, it comes with a multitude of standard features such as push button start, smart key, sunroof etc that even bigger brands have tough time in matching. The interior can often be sore subject for car journalists looking for premium content in a relatively inexpensive car, in that respect the Cerato doesn’t disappoint despite it being sold with either one or two airbags depending on trim. With a wheelbase of 104.3in on an overall length of 178.3in and width of 69.9in and height of 57.5 inches, the Cerato’s front cab architecture has helped released one of the roomiest interiors in its class with seating for up to five passengers. Although, there are some hard plastics on the dashboard and door panels, most of the materials used are fairly nice to the touch and look attractive. But, it’s the level of functionality that’s plays a key role for punters in this class of a car. The interior of the Cerato doesn’t feel claustrophobic and is abundant at 96.8c-ft, and one can simply underestimate the cavernous boot space even though from outside the boot appears




Does the addition of two cogs really make a difference? Well, it does and here’s the inside story

The Gamma front-wheel drive six-speed automatic transmission which has been installed in the 2011 Cerato models is a compact transmission of world class standards developed using Kia Motors’ unique layout. It employs a wide range of new technologies to significantly enhance performance, fuel economy and environment friendliness over the existing four- or five-speed transmissions. Kia claims it boasts superior qualities that helps put it at the forefront of the world’s automatic transmission market. Compared to the outgoing four-speed automatic transmission, the six-speed offers 8 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency, and makes the car 15 per cent faster in the zero to 100km/h acceleration time and 17 per cent quicker 60km/h to 100km/h overtaking time. Using intelligent technologies, the six-speed transmission has knocked off 5kg and has 62 fewer parts. It is also compact and is 6mm shorter in length. Since the design is unique and quite advanced, Kia have acquired about 300 basic patents related to the unique layout featuring three planetary gearsets, two


clutches and three brakes. Additionally, Kia applied a Transmission Control Unit (TCU) with integrated input, control and output units to maintain optimal fuel consumption and performance levels. The input unit receives information related to input/ output revolution, oil temperature, number of engine revolutions and engine torque, while the control unit assesses driving conditions and makes calculations to determine the transmission gear and control the oil pressure/ damper clutch. The solenoid valve operates on signals from the control unit and adjusts the oil pressure to control the transmission. In effect, this means that the 6-speed automatic transmission was developed to respond nimbly and accurately to various vehicle data and the driver’s intention, much like a manual transmission. Meanwhile, the torque converter which relays the engine’s power to the vehicle is more compact and lightweight while offering higher capacity. The seal-type two-pinion differential provides 50 per cent improved durability while the hydraulic deviation adjustment valve body

enhances the shift feel to deliver a smoother ride. In line with Kia’s plans to match performance with design-led vehicles, the carmaker also plans to develop basic technologies for a rearwheel drive eight-speed transmission and a front-wheel drive eight-speed transmission to secure greater competitiveness in the automatic transmission market.

Seal-type differential device for improved durability Lightweight ultra flat torque converter with high capacity

Hydraulic deviation adjustment valve body for enhanced shift quality

Compact stacked hydraulic gear carrier for greater durability

this f o s t n varia e v i e c irus ill re p w O s l e e h t d ding a mo i u l K c n i 1 1 n of ssio i m s n a A total eed tr p s x i s new extremely compact. As a value added package, Kia has made it a priority to provide as many interior features as possible – even in the base LX model. Every Cerato gets a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, tilt steering column, Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel controls, USB and auxiliary input jacks. The car is built on a front-wheel-drive unibody frame and it gets an independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar and a torsion beam rear suspension with struts and coil springs.

Driving impressions

Since we are quite familiar with the car, the time spent with the Cerato went into determining whether there was any appreciable performance enhancement with the arrival of the new transmission. With the new gearbox, and with a bit higher torque availability, we

felt that the engine is able to transmit a bit more power to the wheels. In fact, the car is now much quicker off the mark from standstill and in city the punch required for overtaking or lane changing is now better. While we wouldn’t go as far as describing the Cerato’s handling as sporty, we found it to be more than capable of providing a smooth and comfortable ride. The hydraulic-assisted rack-and-pinion steering provides a decent amount of feedback, but those looking for some more fun might agree that the Mazda3 or the slightly bigger Honda Civic is a shade better. As a city car, the Cerato is perfect as it has a smaller turning radius than the similar sized Toyota Corolla, and this permits the car to be more easily manoeuvred in and out of typical tight spots. Thanks in part to the speedsensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion

steering system. In the comfort and convenience department, additional refinements such as attention to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) reduction and having a stiff body shell is also noted as a contributor to the ‘feel good’ factor in this car which also includes a comfortable ride, stability and good braking abilities.


When it comes down to it, the refreshed Cerato ought to do for Kia what the brand has been doing the last 15 years: make progress. With great looks, plenty of standard features, better packaged powertrains, and excellent fuel mileage, the Cerato is a much more compelling option in the compact sedan segment than Kia has ever had.



The China Syndrome year end brings a special feel with it. The tone is usually bitter-sweet. After all, a year-end signifies the close of a period of activity and portends more happening around the corner. In the unending cycle of the annual crossover, 2010 had a unique feel about it. It stays differentiated in many respects. For starters, 2010 was the year in which most of us in the region and around the world breathed a big sigh of relief and got back to the job of living. Unlike the bulk of the preceding year where the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population waited with bated breath to see whether their country would fall victim to the global malaise, 2010 saw folks just that little more ready to put their money back on the line. For the car industry, 2010 as a whole was a year of revival, renewal and reward. Thankfully people seem to have got 2008 flushed out of their systems. That single bumper year will remain a fond memory in the minds of industry insiders who now see any growth at all as reward for staying the path. Various brands have also had to rejig the way in which they do business. Increasingly BRIC is becoming a noun that appears on the first page of the corporate business plan and one single part of that name has redefined the economics of the car industry. China, the factory of the world, has well and truly come out from behind the bamboo curtain. With more than 13 million cars sold, the country has become the destination for car manufacturers. In fact most car makers who are reporting healthy earnings this year are doing it in Rembi. With predictions of a further 25% growth during 2011, the only thing stopping the Chinese is the inability of infrastructure to grow at an equal pace. Beijing has already announced plans to slash the number of registrations it will allow, in order to reduce gridlock. More cities may fall in line, with some even considering limiting road usage depending on various combinations of car numbers and days of the week. Chinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s car market will still continue to grow for many years, despite all the restrictions and the trend to green vehicles. And like we have discussed before, once the acceptance barrier that prevents many of us in the so-called developed economies from buying China-made cars drops, the sheer size of the investment in China will instantly take it to the top of the metal heap. Will 2011 be Chinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s year on the international stage? It is unlikely to be. However, it is all set to be the biggest single market. What do we put on the wish list for 2011 then? For starters we would like to see more new cars being launched. Understandably there is a backlog of sorts with the dry spell we had over 2009-2010 but now we should see cars sporting smaller, fuelefficient engines, with lots of electronics on-board and far better styling. Of course, despite all our wishes, some of them are going to be not so good driving fun, but we can live with that. We would also like to see Santa Claus or his regional distributor bring good cheer to the car sellers in the region. Most have had a tough time in 2010, either managing a little growth or more importantly undoing the wrongs of large stockpiles of aging cars. 2011 will hopefully be a year of renewal for them too. And we hope our readers choose a new car this year too.


Raj Warrior is editor of Automan and has been in the thick of the Automotive journalism field from the past 15 years. Want to comment or have your say? Email at Identify yourself or your message will be trashed and your id blocked


Automan Jan 2011  

carsm testdrive ,privew

Automan Jan 2011  

carsm testdrive ,privew